16-Year-Old Caleb Kennedy Earns Praise From Luke Bryan Following Impressive ‘American Idol’ Audition

A 16-year-old from South Carolina impressed the American Idol judges with a self-penned country song on Sunday evening (March 7). …


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

March 7, 2021

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Caleb Kennedy, Luke Bryan

A 16-year-old from South Carolina impressed the American Idol judges with a self-penned country song on Sunday evening (March 7). 

Caleb Kennedy showcased his songwriting abilities and gritty country vocals when performing an original, yet unfinished, tune and the judges couldn’t contain their excitement over his audition. 

“You better finish that song ‘Nowhere,’ because it’s gonna take you somewhere,” Perry gushed. 

Kennedy acknowledged that he sometimes acks self-confidence in his musical abilities. 


“Listen man, here’s the deal, you ain’t the only kid out there that’s lacking self-confidence these days,” Bryan assured him. “Your voice tells a story far beyond a 16-year-old kid.” 

His original song earned him a golden ticket to Hollywood after receiving praise from Idol judges Bryan as well as Perry and Lionel Richie.

“You got something real special,” Perry added. “You’re a real songwriter but you got a grit and gravel and crackle in your voice that says ‘I’m in pain someone, please come save me through this song.’ And there’s a lot of people like you, and a lot of people want to process whatever the heck they’re going through by listening to your music. If you want to change your reality the power is in your hands, right there with that guitar.”

“You have mastered at such a young age of 16, a storyteller’s voice,” Richie added. “The three of us, think you’re it and whatever you thought you heard when you were growing up they were lying to you cause they were jealous of you.”

“Young man, I have great expectations for your life,” Richie added.

Kennedy ultimately earned a yes from all three judges and will advance to Hollywood week. 

Watch his full audition above. 

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Lauren Jo Black

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Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.