Caleb Kennedy, 17, made quite a name for himself when he was a top five contestant on American Idol season 19 and now he’s doing so again for a very different reason. The 16-year-old country singer from the small town of Roebuck, South Carolina was arrested and charged with a felony DUI on Feb. 8 for allegedly crashing his car into a building in his home state, which killed one man that was inside.
“A vehicle driven by Caleb Andrew Kennedy ran into a workshop behind a home at 12:33 p.m. in the 200 block of W. Murph Road just 3 miles south of Pacolet,” Fire Chief for the Pacolet, South Carolina Fire Station told HollywoodLife in a statement. “The victim inside of the workshop, 54-year-old Larry Duane Parris, was taken to the hospital and later died from the injuries he sustained.”
Find out more about Caleb and his time on American Idol below.
Caleb performed an original song for his ‘Idol’ audition.
Caleb sang his original song “Nowhere” for the Idol judges. He revealed to Luke Bryan that he’s writing songs “every day” and always has something going through his head. Katy Perry told Caleb that he has “something real special.” Lionel Richie said that Caleb has already mastered a “storyteller’s voice” at 16. All 3 judges voted “yes” to send him to Hollywood. He performed the finished version in a later episode.
His parents’ divorce was tough on him.
“I kind of just lost myself and writing songs kind of helped me find who I was again,” Caleb said in his audition video. His mother, Anita, and stepdad, Marvin, sent him a special message during his audition.
He was eliminated from ‘American Idol’ after a controversial video was found.
On May 12, 2021, Caleb suddenly revealed he wouldn’t be continuing any further in the contest after a controversial video circulated online the same day. Caleb apologized for it and said he’ll be taking a break from social media.
“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol,” Caleb tweeted. “There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in any way. I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse.”
The video Caleb was referring to allegedly showed him wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan hood while with a friend.
“I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down,” his tweet continued. “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!”
Caleb’s mother, Anita spoke out shortly after the video surfaced and said it was taken when he was only 12. “I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online. This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie The Strangers: Prey at Night and they were imitating those characters,” she told the Herald-Journal. “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 has a special bond with his mother.
“I’m very close with my mom,” Caleb said. I love my mom very much. She’s believed in me ever since I started.” His mom also acts as his manager. She books all his gigs.
Caleb played football his freshman year.
He played junior varsity football at Dorman High School. Caleb participated in summer football drills. However, he had to give up football to pursue American Idol, according to The State.