'American Idol' Finalist Caleb Kennedy Exits the Show After Controversial Video Resurfaces Online

Caleb Kennedy is leaving American Idol ahead of the 2021 season finale.

On Wednesday night, the country-singing top 5 contestant announced that he was exiting the ABC singing competition after a controversial Snapchat video of himself from the past resurfaced online. In it, NBC reports that Caleb is seen sitting next to and filming someone wearing what looks like a Ku Klux Klan hood. According to the The Herald Journal, Caleb’s family maintains that the video was recorded when he was 12.

Addressing the controversy, Caleb penned an apology on Instagram while announcing his departure from the show:


A post shared by Caleb Kennedy (@calebkennedyofficial)

The Herald Journal reports that the video has been shared on Twitter, where in some versions there is music and the word “bow” added on it. The original version reportedly did not have words or music on it.

Caleb’s mother, Anita Guy, spoke with the newspaper regarding the video. “I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online,” Anita told The Herald. “This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie The Strangers: Prey at Night and they were imitating those characters. It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that’s how it looks. Caleb doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races.”

Caleb’s exit comes just weeks away from American Idol crowning its next winner. When first appearing on the show, Caleb made a lasting impression on judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie singing his original song entitled “Nowhere.” At the time, Katy told Caleb, “You better finish that song ‘Nowhere,’ because it’s gonna take you somewhere.”

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