Caleb Kennedy, American Idol Finalist, Leaves Show Amid KKK-Related Scandal

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Caleb Kennedy, an aspiring singer who had advanced to the final five on this current season of American Idol, is no longer on the show.

The country artist announced his forced departure on Wednesday afternoon after an old TikTok video surfaced of him.

A video of him sitting near someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood.

Caleb Kennedy

Yikes, right?!? To be clear, the footage was filmed when Kennedy was 12 years old. But still. KKK.

The contestant addressed this on Instagram today, explaining:

"Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol."

Caleb Kennedy video

There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it 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."

"I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down."

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Concluded Kennedy: "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!"

kennedy statement

Kennedy continued:

"I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect!

"Thank you for supporting me."

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Caleb most recently impressed American Idol judges and viewers his country-rock rendition of Coldplay's "Violet Hill."

The famous panel of the rebooted show was wowed by his very first audition - an original song titled “Nowhere."

He hails from from Roebuck, South Carolina.

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At the time, Kennedy told Luke Bryan that he writes new music “every day.”

Katy Perry told him that she believed he had “something real special.”

Lionel Richie also supported the teen - and did not hold back in his praise.

Caleb Kennedy Picture

"You are gonna fool around here and become a great songwriter," he said.

"You have come to the point where that artist is coming out in you."

How quickly all of this has unraveled due to the shocking news.

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In response to the three-second, yet life-altering TikTok video, the 16-year old's mother released a statement.

"I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online," she said in defense of her son.

"This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie The Strangers: Prey at Night."

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"They were imitating those characters," she said, insisting that the whole KKK thing is not what it actually is.

"It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that's how it looks," his mother acknowledged.

"Caleb doesn't have a racist bone in his body."

Caleb Kennedy

"He loves everyone and has friends of all races," she said, and while it may be true, the die has been cast.

With Caleb eliminated, the remaining American Idol contestants are:

Casey Bishop, Grace Kinstler, Chayce Beckham and Willie Spence.

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The four singers will compete on Sunday with a single elimination, rather than a double elimination.

Despite a lot of fan outcry, those four are all that remains.

Kennedy’s spot in the competition will not be given to a previously eliminated contestant.

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Like it or not, Kennedy's run on the competition has come to an end. The question remains (or two questions, really):

1. Was this video truly bad enough that he should have left the show?

2. Will it be the end of any future career aspirations for him, as well?

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American Idol Quotes

Brooke White's tears come from the authentic, good soul that she is. Her heart was breaking because she was overwhelmed with the experience she had with the show and the gift that it brought.

Paula Abdul [after Brooke White was eliminated on season seven]

I read some of this online this morning and just for the record, the rumors — they’re not true. She’s part of our family and we love her.

Ryan Seacrest [on rumor of Paula Abdul being drunk on the show]