Caleb Kennedy was a top-five contestant on season 19 of ABC’s “American Idol” in early 2021. The then 16-year-old singer-songwriter pulled himself from the show following a video surfacing that showed him sitting with someone who was wearing a KKK-style hood, according to TMZ. His mother told the Herald-Journal in May 2021 that the video was taken when Kennedy was 12 years old.
After he left the show, Kennedy took to social media to apologize to fans.
“Hey y’all, this gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on ‘American Idol,’” he wrote on May 12. “There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not to be taken in that way.”
Kennedy recorded a song while he was on ‘American Idol,’ but it wasn’t released at the same time as the other contestants. Now, he released the song for his fans.
Listen to Kennedy’s ‘Raised on Dirt’
The new track was released on Saturday, September 11, 2021.
“It’s where I took my first breath / And it’s where I’ll take my last / Raised On Dirt / Baptized in the rain / For what it’s worth,” Kennedy sings in the song.
“Raised on Dirt” was written by Kennedy in conjunction with Mason Douglas Horn during his time on “American Idol.”
Comments have been disabled on the YouTube video, which has received 5,300 views at the time of writing.
Kennedy Says ‘American Idol’ Was Not What He Wanted
According to USA Today, the “American Idol” judges were asked about Kennedy in a question-and-answer session following the live show that aired after Kennedy’s exit.
“First and foremost, as judges and as a judges’ panel, we love these kids, and we get emotionally involved,” Luke Bryan said. “We wish nothing but the best for Caleb, and it does make for a very, very challenging and upsetting week.”
Lionel Richie also spoke about the exit, saying that he hopes Kennedy will learn from everything that happened.
“We grow up, and we make mistakes, and we look at our lives behind us many, many times and we say, ‘God, what was I thinking about when I did that?’ It’s one of those situations,” he shared.