Is ‘American Idol’s’ Caleb Kennedy the Next Country Outlaw? Katy Perry Thinks So!

American Idol returned to ABC on Sunday evening (April 11) with the exciting unveiling of the Top 16. Caleb Kennedy secured…


Lauren Jo Black

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April 11, 2021


8:59 pm

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Caleb Kennedy, Katy Perry

American Idol returned to ABC on Sunday evening (April 11) with the exciting unveiling of the Top 16.

Caleb Kennedy secured a spot in the next round and immediately took the stage to perform a cover of  “Midnight Train To Memphis” by Chris Stapleton. 

His performance earned praise from Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, who also encouraged him to show more personality when he’s on stage. 

“Caleb, I’ve been studying you and I am convinced this brother has ice water in his veins, stone cold… You come up on stage, you sing the hell out of a song, no reaction. The band is killing it and you stand there stone cold,” Richie shared. “Caleb, that was brilliant for you, and by the way you did a great job, but I’m telling you, you’ve got a lot to do and a lot going forward but hang in there because that voice you just did was wonderful.”

Perry praised his performance and also echoed Richie’s comments. 

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

“You know Caleb, to be 16 and to be really able to stick to your guns on what you are and to not be manipulated by everything going on around you, speaks that hey this guy’s got a course he wants to stay on and that’s very hard for a 16-year-old to do, ” Bryan added.

The 16-year-old previously impressed the Idol judges with performances of two different self-penned songs that truly impressed Idol judges, especially Luke Bryan who praised his gritty country vocals. He also recently performed a duet of “Fly Over States” alongside Jason Aldean during the celebrity duet round.

Fans can vote for Caleb Kennedy by using the official American Idol app, visiting or by texting 22 to 21523. Please note, fans can vote 10 times, per contestant, per voting method.

American Idol airs on Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.

Click above to watch Caleb Kennedy’s performance of “Midnight Train To Memphis.”

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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.