American Idol Caleb Kennedy

Caleb Kennedy (photo from the American Idol website)

By Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo Music | First, American Idol Season 19 frontrunner Wyatt Pike suddenly dropped out of the competition for “personal reasons” during top 12 week, and now, with only two weeks left in the season, another former fan favorite, Caleb Kennedy, is also leaving the show.

However, the reason for Kennedy’s exit is less mysterious. The 16-year-old singer-songwriter, who wowed the judges with his gritty originals like “Mama Said” and “Nowhere” and said he wanted to be a “legend” who “changed country music,” has lost his shot at becoming the next American Idol, after a video circulated of him sitting next to someone wearing what appears to be a Ku Klux Klan hood.

The video, reportedly a Snapchat post from when Kennedy was age 12, went viral Tuesday when YouTube comedian and talk show host DefNoodles, the alter ego of a man named Dennis Feitosa, tweeted it to his 127,000 followers. By the next day, Kennedy had taken to social media to announce his departure from Idol.

“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol,” Kennedy, the only country contestant in this season’s top five, posted. “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. 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! Thank you for supporting me.

The singer’s mother, Anita Guy, came to Kennedy’s defense, telling the Herald-Journal in the family’s home state of South Carolina that the three-second video had been taken out of context.

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