BREAKING: Former ‘American Idol’ Contestant Caleb Kennedy Arrested and Charged with DUI Following Fatal Crash

Caleb Kennedy, who appeared on season 19 of American Idol in 2021, was arrested and charged with a felony driving…


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

February 8, 2022


7:32 pm

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Caleb Kennedy; Photo by American Idol, ABC

Caleb Kennedy, who appeared on season 19 of American Idol in 2021, was arrested and charged with a felony driving under the influence resulting in death on Tuesday (Feb. 8), ABC4 reports.

The 17-year-old was allegedly driving just south of Pacolet, South Carolina on West Murph Road in Spartanburg County around 12:40 pm when his 2011 Ford pickup went into a private drive and reportedly struck a man.

According to Fox Carolina, the 54-year-old victim, Larry Duane Parris, was hit and rushed to the hospital with injuries after Kennedy reportedly struck a detached garage with Parris inside. 

The outlet also reported that Parris was later pronounced dead by The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office at the hospital around 3:45 p.m that afternoon. 

Kennedy, who was traveling North on West Murph Road, also sustained injuries and was taken to Spartanburg Medical Center, Master Trooper Mitchell Ridgeway said.

caleb kennedy mCaleb Kennedy; Photo Courtesy Spartanburg County Sherriff's Office ugshot
Caleb Kennedy; Photo Courtesy Spartanburg County Sherriff’s Office

The “Raised On Dirt” singer was later arrested and charged with felony DUI resulting in death.

According to the official Spartanburg County Sherriff’s Office inmate listings, Caleb Andrew Kennedy was booked by Highway Patrol Officer Jesse Horton and is being held without bond.

Kennedy abruptly exited American Idol before the Top 5 after a video showing him with someone who appeared to be wearing a hood similar to that of the Ku Klux Klan surfaced online. 

The 17-year-old revealed he was leaving Idol in a letter to fans on social media. 

YouTube video

“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol,” Kennedy’s statement began. “There was a video that surfaced on the internet, and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way. I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse.”

Kennedy was just 12-years-old when the video was filmed and his mother later shared a statement about the clip, telling fans it had “nothing to do with the “Ku Klux Klan.”

Caleb Kennedy; Photo by ABC/Christopher Willard
Caleb Kennedy; Photo by ABC/Christopher Willard

The singer/songwriter later opened up about his time on Idol and admitted he was not “ready for it.”

“There’s no way to emotionally prepare for Idol,”  he told the Spartanburg Herald Journal in June of 2021. “Because no one is ready for it, no matter how you prepare. But I don’t regret it, and I did love it.”

After taking a break from the spotlight, Kennedy returned in September with the new track, “Raised on Dirt,” which was originally planned to release during his time on American Idol.

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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 and her work being featured on 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.