Going into American Idol with an original song can be a risky move for hopefuls wanting to make it through to Hollywood Week. Sometimes, though, that risk pays off, as it might for Caleb Kennedy, a contestant on season 4 of ABC’s American Idol.
The 16-year-old came into his audition wearing a cowboy hat and button-up shirt, telling the judges that he performs in public whenever he can. His mom acts as his manager, booking the gigs whenever she can find them.
“I’m very close to my mom, I love my mom very much,” he said. “She’s believed in me since I started.”
Kennedy performed for Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.
Kennedy Sang an Original Song
Kennedy shared that he had a hard time when his parents went through a divorce but writing songs helped him find himself again.
“I wanna be like a legend, I wanna be someone who changed country music,” he said. “I kinda wanna be, like, an outlaw too, a little bit of an outlaw.”
The original song he performed was called “Nowhere,” and it impressed the judges right away because of Kennedy’s voice that was seemingly perfect for country music.
“Who’d you write that with?” Luke Bryan asked the performer.
When Kennedy said no one had helped him but he hadn’t finished a second verse, Bryan volunteered to help him finish the song.
The Judges Were Impressed With Kennedy’s Songwriting & Singing
All three of the American Idol judges were impressed with Kennedy’s voice as well as his songwriting ability.
“Listen, you’d better finish that song ‘Nowhere’ because that song’s gonna take you somewhere,” Perry told him.
When Kennedy removed his hat, the judges saw his haircut and instantly commented on his mullet. Perry exclaimed, “There’s that mullet!”
When asked how much he writes, Kennedy said that he always has ideas in his head and tries to write every day. He added that he lacks self-confidence in his voice and calls himself more of a songwriter than he calls himself a singer.
“Here’s the deal, you ain’t the only kid that lacks self-confidence these days,” Luke Bryan told the singer. “Your voice tells a story far beyond a 16-year-old kid.”
Perry told him that his voice told a great story by itself and he was very talented in songwriting and singing.
“There’s a lot of people like you,” Perry told him. “And a lot of people want to process whatever the heck they’re going through by listening to your music. If you wanna change your reality, the power is in your hands. Right there, with that guitar.”
Richie told him that he had mastered a storyteller’s voice and the three judges think that the contestant is “it.”
“And whatever you thought you heard growing up, they were lying to you because they were jealous of you,” Richie told the contestant.
He got three “yes” votes, meaning he was moving on to Hollywood week.
Hollywood Week begins airing on Sunday, May 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.