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‘American Idol’ Judges Speak Out After Caleb Kennedy Controversy

Taylor Fox

Taylor Fox

Caleb Kennedy Removed from IdolDisney/Matt Stroshane

After a shocking video of a younger Caleb Kennedy sitting next to someone wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood surfaced last week, he was removed from the American Idol line-up. Last night, after the Top 4 performed some of the judges voiced their opinions on the matter.


Despite the disturbing nature of the video, many of Caleb’s fans defended him by saying that he is still just a teenager, and people make mistakes. Others thought his spot should be given back to recently eliminated contestant Hunter Metts.

‘Idol’ Judges Respond to Removal of Caleb Kennedy

“First and foremost, as judges, we love these kids,” Luke Bryan told People. “We get emotionally involved in these kids. We want the best for Caleb. As far as the nuances on how ABC gets viewed, either way, decisions got made and it’s our job as judges to show up and do our best job and comment on the kids who are in front of us. But we wish nothing but the best for Caleb. It does make for a very, very challenging and upsetting week.”

It is not yet clear whether Caleb left the competition willingly, or if the network removed him from the show. However Bryan, along with American Idol alum Laine Hardy were added as last minute performers for Sunday night’s episode. Likely, to fill the time slot reserved for Caleb’s three performances.


“A lot of times, we think about it, we grow up and we make mistakes and we look at our life behind us many times and we say, ‘God, what was I thinking about when I did that?'” Judge Lionel Richie said to People. “This was one of those situations where we kind of give him a big hug from the three of us. He has definitely has a talent. The problem is, this is one of those unfortunate decisions that had to be made and we move on. But this will be remembered in his lifetime and he’ll know what it’s all about.”

Caleb’s Mom Says the Video ‘Had Nothing to do With the Ku Klux Klan’

After the video of Caleb surfaced and he announced that he would be leaving the show, his mom, Anita Guy, tried to clarify the situation. She said the video was filmed when Caleb was 12 years old, four years ago, and it was based on characters seen in the movie The Strangers: Prey at Night.

“It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan,” she said. “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.”


In his initial statement, Caleb said he would be taking some time away from social media to better himself.

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About the Author

Taylor Fox

Taylor Fox is the Managing Editor of Talent Recap. When she's not covering entertainment news, she can be found baking, reading, or exploring NYC. Taylor is an avid traveler and her cultural work has been published in a variety of magazines and websites including New Territory Magazine, Missouri Life Magazine, Reuters, Baroque Lifestyle Magazine, The Common Ingredient, and more.

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