Caleb Kennedy Exits ‘American Idol’ After Allegedly Appearing in a Video with Someone Wearing Ku Klux Klan Hood

Caleb Kennedy is leaving American Idol after a controversial social media post surfaced showing him with someone who appears to…


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

May 12, 2021

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Caleb Kennedy; Photo by ABC/Christopher Willard

Caleb Kennedy is leaving American Idol after a controversial social media post surfaced showing him with someone who appears to be wearing Ku Klux Klan hood. 

The South Carolina native took to social media on Wednesday (May 12) to issue the following statement regarding the matter and reveal that he is leaving the competition. 

“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.”

“I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down,” Kennedy went on to say. “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.”


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A post shared by Caleb Kennedy (@calebkennedyofficial)

Caleb Kennedy landed a slot in the Top 5 of the show earlier this week. During the season, he performed songs such as  “Midnight Train to Memphis” by Chris Stapleton,  “On the Road, Again” by Willie Nelson and even sang a duet with country superstar Jason Aldean. 

Earlier this season, Katy Perry referred to the 16-year-old as country music’s next “outlaw.” 

“You just have like this grit, this real country,” she said at the time. “You are becoming the outlaw…”

A source close to American Idol told Music Mayhem that contestant Caleb Kennedy “will no longer be moving forward in the competition. Sunday’s episode will feature the Top 4 with one contestant elimination.”

American Idol returns to ABC on Sunday, May 16 at 8/7c. 

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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.