16-Year-Old Caleb Kennedy Earns Spot In ‘American Idol’ Top 24 with Original Country Song

After auditioning with an original song, 16-year-old Caleb Kennedy followed his gut and took the stage with another original tune…


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

March 28, 2021


9:05 pm

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Caleb Kennedy; Photo by ABC/ American Idol

After auditioning with an original song, 16-year-old Caleb Kennedy followed his gut and took the stage with another original tune during American Idol’Showstopper round on Sunday evening (March 28). 

The South Carolina native explained that he originally planned to cover a Travis Tritt song, but decided to go with one he wrote called “When You Leave Tonight” at the last minute. 

“I don’t think it’s a risk to sing an original song, because an original song is how I got here,” he explained. 

“I’m proud of that performance no matter if they like it or not. I’m proud of it,” Kennedy added. 

Unfortunately, Kennedy’s performance left the judges wanting more. 


“Caleb, we felt like the song during the Showstoppers round was good,” Perry said, adding, “I feel like your audition song was much better.” 

“Remember you’re 16, you’re going to write some good songs and you’re going to write songs that aren’t that great,” Bryan told him. 

While his performance didn’t impress the judges too much, they decided to advance him in the competition. 

“You’re going through. You’re in our Top 24,” Bryan revealed. “Keep fighting. Keep working for it.” 

Click above to watch Caleb Kennedy’s performance. 

American Idol airs on Sunday and Monday on ABC. 

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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.