SC’s Caleb Kennedy steps back into the spotlight after leaving ‘American Idol’

·3 min read

A month after Caleb Kennedy dropped out of the “American Idol” contest, the teen country singer has revived his music career with a Spartanburg County performance, a website and new music expected to be released in August.

The 16-year-old from the tiny community of Roebuck performed at Wings Etc. in nearby Boiling Springs on Friday night. He was a regular there before his rise on “American Idol,” where he reached the top five.

Jason Cole, the general manager at Wings Etc., said more than 200 people showed up on what turned out to be a stormy night. Three tents were set up in the parking lot for Kennedy and his band.

“It went very well,” Cole said.

Anita Guy, Kennedy’s mother, said Tuesday that Caleb has not booked any additional shows but is working on music to be released later this summer. She said she could not disclose whether any of her son’s songs had been picked up by other artists.

“Idol” judges repeatedly praised Kennedy’s songwriting talent. Lionel Richie said Kennedy was “going to fool around here and become a great songwriter.”

Kennedy’s song “Nowhere” has been popular on iTunes country charts, and his EP reached No. 2 on the iTunes country chart and No. 7 among all genres after he left “Idol.”

Kennedy recently launched a website,, where future performances will be listed, Guy said. People can also request a performance date and buy merchandise. One notable item is a cap that says “outlaw,” which Kenendy said on “Idol” he hoped to become. He wore one of the caps Friday night.

Kennedy left “Idol” May 12 after he told producers about a video that showed him sitting with someone dressed in what appears to be a Ku Klux Klan hood. The video was circulated at his school, Dorman High, and made its way onto social media.

Kennedy’s mother said at the time the video was made when her son was 12. The hood was intended to look like one from the movie “The Strangers,” she said. She believed it was leaked by someone jealous of her son’s success.

At the time, three weeks before the “Idol” finale, some people thought he would win the competition. Instead, it was won by Chayce Beckham, who has a similar voice to Kennedy and was also a songwriter.

When Kennedy announced on Instagram he was leaving the show, he said the video “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.”

He said he knew he hurt and disappointed many people and lost their respect.

“I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect!” he said.

He said he was taking time away from social media “to better myself.”

He hasn’t posted anything on Instagram since then, but he recently added an Instagram story — which disappears after 24 hours — that said, “I love and miss you guys!!”

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