Caleb Kennedy Admits He ‘Wasn’t Ready’ for the ‘American Idol’ Experience

“There’s no way to emotionally prepare for Idol,” he says.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

July 14, 2021


11:06 am

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Caleb Kennedy; Photo by American Idol, ABC

Artists audition for American Idol with hopes of making it to Hollywood, gaining experience, growing a strong fanbase, and then leaving with a music career. What they don’t always think about is what it’s like to be thrown into the spotlight. This especially rings true for someone as young as 16-year-old American Idol contestant, Caleb Kennedy, as this can be an overwhelming part of the process.

“You think it’s all going to be fun, and a lot of it is, but it will slap you in the face really quickly. I wasn’t ready for it,” Kennedy recently shared with the Spartanburg Herald Journal , reflecting on the pressure he felt during his time on the show. 

“There’s no way to emotionally prepare for Idol,” he added. “Because no one is ready for it, no matter how you prepare. But I don’t regret it, and I did love it.”


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A post shared by Caleb Kennedy (@calebkennedyofficial)

After securing a spot in the top five on Season 19 of Idol, Kennedy suddenly exited the show when a controversial video surfaced online. The video footage showed the singer alongside a friend wearing a white hood, which resembled the ones worn by Ku Klux Klan members. According to his parents, Kennedy was just 12 years old at the time the video was filmed. 

The South Carolina native decided to take a break from social media following the incident, but not before issuing an apology for his past actions.

“I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down,” Kennedy shared on Instagram. “I’ll be taking a little time off social media to better myself, but saying that, I know this has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made people lose respect for me. I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect! Thank you for supporting me.”

In addition to other contestants and at-home viewers, Kennedy had the support of the judges during his time on the show. After performing an impressive cover of  “Midnight Train To Memphis” by Chris Stapleton, Katy Perry even called him the next country “outlaw.”

“It’s almost like I can never see your eyes and I kind of like it. Who are you? I want to know more,” Perry told the high school student. “You just have like this grit, this real country. You are becoming the outlaw…”


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A post shared by Caleb Kennedy (@calebkennedyofficial)

A little over a month after releasing his apologetic statement, Kennedy has returned to social media with a black and white video of him and a guitarist singing with a caption that read, “May to June.” Many hopeful fans took to the comment section to show their support for the young artist.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.