Spartanburg’s Caleb Kennedy’s Debut Performance After American Idol
Last March, Caleb Kennedy sang to a full house at Wings Etc. at Boiling Springs. It was her last performance in her hometown before heading to Hollywood, California to pursue her dream of becoming the next âAmerican Idolâ.
But Kennedy Idol the experience was not like most. He placed in the top 5 contestants in the reality singing contest and left the show with just two performances from the final night after a a controversial video has surfaced online.
Kennedy appears in the Snapchat post sitting next to someone wearing what appears to be a Ku Klux Klan balaclava. Kennedy’s family said the video was recorded when he was 12.
Kennedy has kept a low profile since returning home, with very little activity on his social media sites. But that changed on Friday as Kennedy played for a hometown crowd at Wings, Etc.
It may have been a stormy and rainy evening, but the weather didn’t stop the hundreds of fans and supporters who came to Wings Etc. to hear Kennedy play his first gig after American Idol.
âIt feels good to be back, but different and a little more scary with so many people,â Kennedy said when asked to return to the stage.
The group held a meet from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and fans were lined up as early as 4:30 p.m. in hopes of meeting the young crooner.
One of her younger fans, Paisleigh Sims, was thrilled to meet Kennedy and even asked her if she could ever sing one of her original songs with him.
âI love to sing ‘Nowhere’ on Alexa,â Sims said.
Kennedy made her night out when he took her out of the crowd, sat her on a stool next to him and sang her favorite song, ‘Nowhere.’
American Idol singer / songwriter
Kennedy quickly became known as a storyteller and songwriter on American Idol. He made his first audition before judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie with Paisleigh’s favorite song “Nowhere”. And his original songs continued to keep him steadily advancing in the competition.
âYou’re going to have fun here and become a great songwriter,â Richie said. “You have come to the point where this artist comes out in you.”
Kennedy debuted a new original song Friday night, “Raised on Dirt,” which he co-wrote during his time on American Idol with Ross Copperman, a well-known singer-songwriter with 29 No. 1 radio hits, including Bryan’s “Strip it Down” and Billy Currington’s “Don’t It”.
Kennedy’s father, Mark Kennedy, accompanied him to California during his time on American Idol and was at the forefront of his experiences on the famous show. But Mark said some of his best memories were watching his progress and how much he had grown.
âIt was a great trip,â said Mark. âWatching him work with the voice coaches and seeing his reaction when he hit the top 5 are things I’ll never forget. I’m so grateful that I got to experience this with him.
Roebuck’s Wendy Neely was overjoyed to see Kennedy again after surprising her recently for her 40th birthday. Neely, a teacher at Roebuck Elementary School where Kennedy attended, watched his American Idol journey from the start.
She recently celebrated her 40th birthday with a party at her house. She didn’t know it, but her friends and family had arranged for Kennedy to surprise her by stopping to sing a few songs.
âI was so excited, so happy, very surprised,â Neely said. âAnd he brought his whole family, and they ended up hanging out all afternoon and evening with us. He was very nice, took his time with everyone and sang a good song.
Many students from Dorman High School were in attendance, including recent graduate Wesley Bishop.
âHe’s pretty good,â Bishop said. “Everyone knew he was good, but I think no one knew how good he was and how far he would be on the show.”
The owner of Wings etc., Scott McFalls, is known for supporting local talent in the Boiling Springs area.
âI’m a hometown restaurant, a little place,â McFalls said. “For someone who is as famous as he is now, to come back and perform is just phenomenal.” It was fun watching him grow up from this 14 year old little one whose mom had to drop him off for concerts to who he is now.
Kennedy played many old country rock songs like âFree Bird,â âSimple Manâ and âMidnight Rider,â but silence fell over the rowdy crowd as Kennedy performed without the band, singing one of his songs. original songs, âI Miss My Buddiesâ while strumming his guitar.
Many fans have said Kennedy’s ability to write songs that touch people is his gift.
âWhen I write songs, I want to make someone feel something,â Kennedy said.
His mother, Anita Guy, is a staple at all of her son’s concerts, and she was in the front row, central to his performance. But she said her favorite part of the night was before the show started. Some members of the group told her that her son needed her in the back.
âI thought something was wrong,â Guy said. “I asked Caleb if something was wrong and he said ‘No, I just wanted a hug before I went out.'”
He may be an outlaw, or a knight rider, as Perry nicknamed him. But he’s an outlaw and a knight horseman who always wants to kiss his mother before a big performance.
There is no doubt that she will continue to be front row, center stage in her son’s upcoming shows.
Ashley Dill is from Spartanburg and has been on the staff of the Herald-Journal for 14 years. She covers community news and can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @ashleydill_shj.