Caleb Kennedy, an aspiring singer who had advanced to the final five on this current season of American Idol, is no longer on the show.
The country artist announced his forced departure on Wednesday afternoon after a TikTok video surfaced of him sitting near someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood.
To be clear, the footage was filmed when Kennedy was 12 years old.
“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol,” the contestant said on Instagram today, explaining:
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.”
“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.”
Caleb most recently impressed American Idol judges and viewers his country-rock rendition of Coldplay’s “Violet Hill.”
He hails from from Roebuck, South Carolina and wows the famous panel during his very first audition by belting out an original song titled “Nowhere.”
At the time, Kennedy told Luke Bryan that he writes new music “every day.”
Katy Perry told him that she believed he had “something real special,” while Lionel Richie even praised the teen as follows:
“You are gonna fool around here and become a great songwriter. You have come to the point where that artist is coming out in you.”
In response to the three-second TikTok video, the 16-year old’s mother released a statement in defense of her son.
“I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online,” she said.
“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.”
With Caleb eliminated, the remaining American Idol contestants are:
Casey Bishop, Grace Kinstler, Chayce Beckham, and Willie Spence.