American Idol frontrunner Kenedi Anderson, 17, has mysteriously dropped out of the talent show because of ‘personal reasons’ – having become the favorite to win after she was awarded a Platinum Ticket that gave her the chance to bypass several rounds of competition.
News of the 17-year-old singer’s sudden withdrawal from the reality show came shortly after she received a standing ovation from all three judges for her latest performance – an emotional rendition of Christina Perri’s hit Human, which was pre-recorded for Monday night’s episode in Hawaii.
Just moments after her performance was aired, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced that Kenedi, from Crozet, Virginia, had pulled out of contention, telling viewers: ‘Since we taped these shows in Hawaii earlier, Kenedi has decided to withdraw from our show for personal reasons. We send her well wishes.’
The teenager also released a statement about her decision, writing on Instagram: ‘For personal reasons, I’m unable to continue on. This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but I know it’s necessary.’
She did not share further detail about the ‘personal reasons’ that prompted her withdrawal.
Personal reasons: Kenedi Anderson shockingly dropped out of American Idol for ‘personal reasons’ on Monday’s episode after becoming a frontrunner as a Platinum Ticket winner.
Hawaii performance: The 17-year-old singer had performed Human by Christina Perri for the judges
The teenage singing sensation – who was unanimously awarded a Platinum Ticket by judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan after the first round of the competition – went on to pay tribute to the American Idol team and her many fans.
‘I’m so grateful to American Idol, the judges, the producers, the amazing contestants, and all the fans who have supported me,’ she continued.
‘Thank you for giving me such an amazing opportunity to share my voice, chase my dreams, feel so much joy and happiness doing what I love, and make lifelong friends along the way.’
Speaking ahead of her performance – which was pre-taped and then aired on Monday night – Kenedi opened up about the ‘vulnerability’ of the song, explaining that she felt as though she was able to ‘connect’ to that aspect of the writing.
‘Christina wrote it in a very vulnerable way, so I think that I can connect to it really well emotionally,’ she said.
‘This has been one of the best weeks of my life already,’ Kenedi said in a confessional. ‘This experience is just overwhelming in the best way possible.’
The teenage singer got the surprise of a lifetime when she received a FaceTime from Human singer Christina ahead of her performance, with the chart-topper wishing the youngster luck before she made her way out on stage.
‘I heard you were singing my song this week and I wanted to say hi!’ Christina told an emotional Kenedi. ‘Listen, I can’t wait to hear it. I wanted to wish you the best of luck.’
‘I hope I do it justice,’ Kenedi said to her.
Social media: Kenedi also posted on Instagram on Sunday about leaving the ABC singing competition show
Great experience: ‘This has been one of the best weeks of my life already,’ Kenedi said in a confessional. ‘This experience is just overwhelming in the best way possible’
Good luck: Singer-songwriter Christina also called Kenedi during the show to wish her good luck. Kenedi was shocked
After Kenedi’s performance, Ryan came on the screen to explain the reason why there was no voting information for Kenedi and that instead of 12 contestants to vote on for Monday’s show competing on the episode that was filmed on location at Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii that there would only be 11.
Well wishes: ‘Since we taped these shows in Hawaii earlier, Kenedi has decided to withdraw from our show for personal reasons,’ host Ryan Seacrest said. ‘We send her well wishes’
Kenedi’s decision to quit the talent competition comes weeks after she wowed judges in her initial audition – prompting Luke to declare that she ‘might be the biggest star we’ve ever seen’.
The teen performed a soulful rendition of Lady Gaga’s Applause, singing and playing piano for the judges, after opening up about her home life to the cameras.
Kenedi explained that she ‘moved a lot because of her dad’s job’ as a child, adding that she is ‘never in one place for a long time’ because of her father, Virginia football coach Justin Anderson’s job.
‘I have been moving basically my whole life,’ she explained. ‘It’s so hard starting over and readjusting to new places. It’s tough sometimes, it really is, and it can get really lonely.’
However she noted that having a ‘big family’ has helped her to cope with the constant upheaval, adding: ‘Having a big family has helped me a lot. I’m one of six children, [I’m] the second oldest.
‘We’re pretty close and we’ve been through a lot together. Everyone in my family is really athletic and I’m the musical one.
‘Music really is my therapy. Whenever I’m frustrated, whenever I’m feeling down, music has always been the one thing that has stuck with me, no matter what.’
During her first audition, Kenedi quickly became a frontrunner in the competition after earning a Platinum Ticket with her rendition of Lady Gaga’s Applause
The teenager earned a standing ovation from all three judges – and Luke told her that she ‘might be the biggest star we’ve ever seen’
Kenedi continued to go from strength to strength on the talent series, landing herself a spot in the top 24, before choosing to withdraw herself from the competition
Her performance left all three judges open-mouthed in shock – and earned her a standing ovation from the stunned trio, with Katy telling the teenager that she was shocked she hadn’t already been ‘recruited’ by a talent agency or record label.
‘I don’t know how you haven’t been recruited yet. You check every box and a lot of all of them. Get ready to become your own hero,’ she told Kenedi, as the teen broke down in tears.
The popstar then joked that she was incredibly envious of Kenedi – not only because of her talent, but because of her youth and looks, joking that the teen was ‘younger, skinnier, prettier’ than her.
Lionel was equally impressed with Kenedi’s audition, telling her: ‘You don’t understand, we can sit here all day long and sing songs, what we’re looking for is the next thing in the music business.
‘You have graced us because your voice, your look, your sound… if that’s 17 years old then congratulations. You’ve answered our prayers.’
Meanwhile Luke chimed in: ‘I believe you might be the biggest star we’ve ever seen, no doubt, I believe top ten. I truly believe your musical journey for the rest of your life just started right here.’
Kenedi was accompanied at the audition by her mother, who was seen happily congratulating her daughter after she claimed her Platinum Ticket.
The best of the rest: How Kenedi’s competition performed in Hawaii
Later in the show, Katy Perry was left speechless after she saw the transformation of contestant Fritz Hager from security guard to indie-folk artist.
‘Well, uh,’ Katy, 37, said. ‘So your hair’s different. It’s a little bit long and more rock and roll. You don’t look like a security guard anymore.’
‘No, I quit,’ Fritz, the 21-year-old from Texas, said after taking the stage and performing Waves by Dean Lewis. ‘I’m unemployed now.’
Luke Bryan,45, joked that being unemployed was the first step in becoming an artist.
‘What you just gave us, I thought was so spectacular,’ Katy said. ‘By the time you sang your last note I was like ‘am I watching Kings of Leon? Am I watching Mumford & Sons? What am I watching. This kid is it. This is the real deal. You are really truly an artist and I think you believe it now, because I can feel it from you.’
Luke said maybe all the notes weren’t perfect.
New look: Later in the show, Katy Perry was left speechless after she saw the transformation of contestant Fritz Hager from security guard to indie-folk artist
The judges: Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan critiqued the performances
Show mentor: Bebe Rexha, 32, served as mentor to the singers during the episode
‘But the emotion and the performance and everything you were going for us that’s what’s exciting about you,’ Luke said.
Lionel Richie, 72, said that when he started out he seemed scared to death.
‘All of a sudden tonight, you came after us,’ Lionel said. ‘You were like a bulldog, man. And you gave us attitude on top of attitude. Give us more of that Fritz.’
Before he took the stage, Fritz told this week’s mentor Bebe Rexha, 32, that he worked as a security officer who just looked at cameras.
‘If there was a criminal there, I would just talk to them and say ‘hey leave,’ Fritz said. ‘I mean that’s not me anymore.’
Fritz told her that he quit his job.
‘Now you are trying to make your dreams a reality,’ Bebe said.
When Fritz practiced for Bebe said she noticed that he got nervous during the first couple notes of the song.
‘I have the same thing,’ Bebe said. ‘I get so nervous. I have such bad nerves. I think just getting that first note is so important because I feel if I get the first note that everything is good.’
Gets nervous: ‘I have the same thing,’ Bebe said. ‘I get so nervous. I have such bad nerves. I think just getting that first note is so important because I feel if I get the first note that everything is good’
First up: The first contestant of the episode was 19-year-old Cadence Baker from Alabama who told Bebe that she was going to be performing ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’ by Etta James
Bebe told him to just practice those first three notes until he felt settled.
‘You are going to kill it,’ Bebe said. ‘I know you are because you’re awesome.’
When he finished his performance, host Ryan asked him where confidence was coming from.
‘This experience has made me grow so much as a person and as an artist,’ Fritz said. ‘I’m just so grateful for it.’
The first contestant of the episode was 19-year-old Cadence Baker from Alabama who told Bebe that she was going to be performing ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’ by Etta James. Cadence told Bebe that the judges told her that one of her issues was a lack of confidence.
‘You have to fake it till you make it,’ Bebe said. ‘Because I feel like you’re so talented, you’re beautiful, you have great energy. I just want to show the judges that you’re not afraid.’
Bebe instructed her during rehearsals to move around the stage more and take the mic stand off and move it to the side and get into the vibe.
‘I promise you are going to get this,’ Bebe said.
When Cadence finished performing, all the judges were standing applauding.
‘I don’t know where you found that extra burst of confidence, but the growl in your voice and your presentation was just off the charts tonight,’ Lionel said. ‘Congratulations. I thought that was just fantastic.’
High praise: ‘I don’t know where you found that extra burst of confidence, but the growl in your voice and your presentation was just off the charts tonight,’ Lionel said. ‘Congratulations. I thought that was just fantastic’
Chicago singer: Sir Blayke, the 28-year-old Chicago singer who was once homeless, went next and told Bebe that he was going to sing ‘Breakeven’ by The Script
‘I thought it was a fantastic arrangement because it got to show off, like incredible range at the beginning and just so much fun just like your dress and your shoes,’ Katy said.
‘That performance lived up to your original audition,’ Luke said.
‘You killed that,’ Bebe said to Cadence when she walked off the stage. ‘You started the show and you killed it. ‘
Sir Blayke, the 28-year-old Chicago singer who was once homeless, went next and told Bebe that he was going to sing ‘Breakeven’ by The Script.
‘I love that song,’ Bebe said.
She asked him if there was anyone in particular who he was singing this song about.
‘You know who you are,’ Sir Blayke said to the camera.
‘I’ve been through so much in my life,’ Sir Blayke said in a confessional. ‘Self doubt is definitely a struggle for me.’
Bebe said she could see in his eyes that he had a beautiful soul.
‘Do not doubt yourself,’ Bebe said. ‘I want to see you fight on stage.’
The crow cheered after Sir Blayke’s performance. Host Ryan Seacrest came on stage to talk to him.
‘Breakups are never fun but they can fuel and emotion when you’re performing,’ Ryan said. ‘How did your recent one fuel you during that song?’
‘Sometimes you have to let go,’ Sir Blayke said. ‘So for me performing that song was me saying my final goodbye.’
‘You gave us vocals tonight that I didn’t even know you had,’ Katy said. ‘Definitely remember to always keep injecting your own personal style because I think that’s what has gotten you here to Hawaii, is that you have a sound unlike any of these other contestants.’
‘As you delivered that performance, I was so glad that you were the one we went with,’ Luke said. ‘You showed us that you can move around and put on a performance, too.’
Country star: ‘As you delivered that performance, I was so glad that you were the one we went with,’ Luke said. ‘You showed us that you can move around and put on a performance, too’
Talented teenager: Allegra Miles, 19, performed next and picked ‘Adore You’ by Harry Styles as her song
Lionel shared his thoughts last.
‘What I wanted to say to you Sir Blayke is always remember, I don’t care whether you’re have having the roughest day of your life or the happiest say of your life, bring that emotion to the stage,’ Lionel said. ‘You gave us a performance that we could actually hook our arms around.’
Allegra Miles, 19, performed next and picked ‘Adore You’ by Harry Styles as her song. Allegra told Bebe that she was going to play her own arrangement of the song but was not going to play an instrument as she usually did.
‘I think it will be freeing to not be behind something,’ Allegra said. ‘I want to connect.’
Bebe said that was smart. After stage rehearsals, Bebe gave her tips on her stage presence.
‘When you were having fun, I was having fun,’ Bebe said. ‘Just remember the notes and I promise you are going to kill it.’
When she finished, Ryan asked her what it was like to sing without having an instrument with her on stage.
‘It’s really cool,’ Allegra said. ‘It definitely was a little bit of an adjustment in rehearsals at first, but now it’s just fun.’
‘Your voice literally sounded like it had a filter already on it,’ Luke said. ‘I mean, it sounded, really, really perfect.’
He congratulated her on taking the step to try singing without an instrument and told her that the show was about pushing oneself out of the comfort zone.
‘There are singers and then there are stylists,’ Lionel said. ‘You have a style. From the first note, I knew immediately when you opened your mouth exactly who you were.’
Katy said that her rendition was very jazz inspired and mature.
‘Like Bonnie Raitt was possessing your body,’ Katy said. ‘I think that you have such an incredible, unique style that is all your own. You’re only 19. It’s brilliant.’
Unique style: ‘Like Bonnie Raitt was possessing your body,’ Katy said. ‘I think that you have such an incredible, unique style that is all your own. You’re only 19. It’s brilliant’
Electric performance: Lady K ultimately decided to do ‘Before He Cheats’ by Carrie Underwood and when she finished she told Ryan her song choice was ‘electric’
Bebe also congratulated her when she walked off stage.
‘You helped me so much,’ Allegra told her.
When Lady K, 25, from Alabama, met with Bebe said she was deciding between two songs either ‘Collard Greens & Cornbread’ by Fantasia or ‘Before He Cheats’ by Carrie Underwood. Bebe had her sing both to help her decide but then told her she killed both.
‘I think you should keep it a secret and surprise me,’ Bebe said.
Lady K ultimately decided to do ‘Before He Cheats’ by Carrie Underwood and when she finished she told Ryan her song choice was ‘electric.’
‘I think going forward I want to hear even more of that angst out of you,’ Luke told her.
Lionel stood up.
‘Let me say this, because they don’t even know,’ Lionel said. ‘This is from homeless to Hawaii. You have to understand. I mean we happen to be from the same hometown Tuskegee, Alabama. For her to come this far, I know there is a town screaming for you, but more importantly it’s for you. It’s all about you.’
‘Like Lionel said we have come so far with you and It’s been such an incredible journey,’ Katy said. ‘I’m just so proud of you how far you have come.’
Bebe greeted her off stage.
‘I feel you made a great choice,’ Bebe said.
Ava Maybee, the 20-year-old daughter of Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, picked ‘Tell Me Something Good’ by Chaka Khan.
‘I’m definitely nervous,’ Ava said when she sat down with Bebe and told her her song choice. ‘It’s a big song. It’s no joke. It’s definitely out of my comfort zone.’
Nailed it: Ava Maybee, the 20-year-old daughter of Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, picked ‘Tell Me Something Good’ by Chaka Khan and nailed it
Bebe asked her why she chose this song.
‘I randomly had dream that I was going to sing a Chaka Kahn song on American Idol,’ Ava said.
‘That was definitely good,’ Bebe after she heard Ava practice.
Bebe also helped her amp up her stage presence.
‘I’m scared but I’m excited,’ Ava said before she performed.
‘Chaka Khan is not especially the person you want to wrestle with, especially with competition,’ Lionel told her when she finished.’But I must tell you, the fact that you had enough guts to do it and you turned it into Ava. You took it and made it our own, and you did a great job. I must tell you, that was pretty risky, but you took care of business.’
Katy said her song was very soulful and funky.
‘That song has got a lot of room for riffing so you really, there is a little bit of room for error, but there’s a lot of room to show off, and it’s a fine line that you straddled very well,’ Katy said. ‘So good for you for taking those musical risks.’
‘There are songs that are a little dangerous to perform on American Idol and historically this is one of them that gives contestants a little bit of a problem,’ Luke said. ‘You really showed a different side and good for you.’
Ava told Ryan why she chose such a difficult song.
‘ I just want to keep improving and keep proving to the judges and to America that I deserve to be here, and I can only push myself if I choose things that are out of my comfort zone,’ Ava said.
Bebe came out on stage and told Ryan that she was really enjoying being a mentor.
‘I’m blown away,’ Bebe said. ‘Their stories, their voices, their control. And I feel like a proud mom. I know it’s weird to say that but they’re awesome.’
Noah Thompson, 19, a construction worker Louisa, Kentucky, told Bebe that he was going to sing ‘Blue Side of the Mountain’ by Steel Drivers.
Construction worker: Noah Thompson, 19, a construction worker Louisa, Kentucky, told Bebe that he was going to sing ‘Blue Side of the Mountain’ by Steel Drivers
‘It reminds me of my hometown,’ Noah said. ‘ I want this to be not just a proud moment for me but for my family because I have got a little boy, too.’
Noah later Face-timed with his nine-month-old son Walker.
‘I’ve never wanted much for myself until we had Walker, and it just changed everything,’ Noah said in a confessional. ‘I want a better life for him, and I don’t want to ever feel like I’m struggling to support him.’
‘You got a lot on your back,’ Bebe said.
After Noah sang playing the guitar, Ryan asked him how it felt to have people in front of him when he was singing.
‘It’s awesome,’ Noah said.
‘I think you were bringing some of the country to the island and staying true to your roots,’ Katy said. ‘You’re doing great and tonight it was solid country efforts with that song.’
Luke said he understood that performing on stage was all new to him.
‘We pulled you out of an environment that you didn’t see coming 100 miles away,’ Luke said. ‘Keep going forward. Keep taking our advice. Keep following your heart and just keep being the country boy that’s standing right there.’
‘You got a story teller voice,’ Lionel said. ‘Don’t let the shyness shut you down. Every time you walk on stage, walk out there with some big boots.’
‘You have what it takes,’ Bebe told him after he left the stage.
Leah Marlene, 20, from Normal, Illinois, told Bebe she was going to sing ‘Call Me’ by Blondie by her version of it. Leah played her guitar as she practiced the song for Bebe. When she did her last move on stage, her cell phone fell out of her pocket.
‘Was this supposed to be symbolic,’ Ryan said when he picked it up. ‘Call me’ The phone comes right out. Call me and here’s the device you can use.’
Blondie song: Leah Marlene, 20, from Normal, Illinois, told Bebe she was going to sing ‘Call Me’ by Blondie by her version of it
‘The most important thing you have to understand if you’re in a lane all by yourself, ” Lionel told her. ” As far as this competition is concerned there’s only one of you. It’s endless where you can go.“
‘You are definitely one of a kind for sure,’ Katy said. ‘You are just a bunch of fun.’
Luke said that she didn’t have him in the front quarter of her performance.
‘I think maybe you should have just crushed it from the beginning,’ Luke said.
‘I disagree,’ Katy said. ‘She needed somewhere to go. You can’t just come out and slap someone across the face and run.’
Luke said she did win him over on the back half of her performance. Bebe gave her a hug when she was done and said ‘two thumbs up.’
Cameron Whitcomb, 18, from Canada, showed Bebe his backflips before he even told her that he was going to sing ‘Bad Moon Rising’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Classic rock: Cameron Whitcomb, 18, from Canada, showed Bebe his backflips before he even told her that he was going to sing ‘Bad Moon Rising’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Bebe told him that he needed to focus his energy. She told him to use the mic stand to help him stand still.
‘I think you are actually a star,’ Bebe told him.
‘The one thing I don’t want to do is completely change somebody for who they are ,’ Bebe said in a confessional. ‘But if he can find a way to harness his energy just a little bit, he will kill his performance backflip and all.’
Cameron started the song by doing a backflip on stage. He also didn’t take Bebe’s advice and use the mike stand.
‘He didn’t listen to any of my advice,’ Bebe said when he was singing.
Cameron also ended his performance with a backflip on stage. Katy then asked if Cameron’s parents were in the audience after his enthusiastic performance and the judges bowed down to them.
‘We are not worthy,’ Lionel said.
‘Hey all the conversations you must have had with his teacher,’ Luke said.
‘You have no idea,’ Cameron’s mother said.
‘I understand now why you have to flip because if you don’t get a burst of energy out, Lionel and I think that maybe you’ll just blow up,’ Katy said.
‘One-hundred percent guaranteed,’ Cameron said.
‘I don’t know what kind of case study you are,’ Katy said. ‘Honestly you should bathe in lavender oil to go down.’
‘Absolutely,’ Cameron said.
‘We can sit here and tell you a million times not to move around onstage,’ Luke said. ‘It would be wasted breath.’ So you just keep doing what you do. Keep smiling. Keep having fun. Great performance.’
‘All I’m going to say is that was his first song, imagine a whole show,’ Lionel said. ‘If can get you to calm down and spread that out over an hour and a half of actual show business, you’ve got something.’
Long Island’s Christian Guardino, 21, went next. He met with Bebe and told her picked ‘Leave The Door Open ” by Silk Sonic.
‘My family is off the boat from Sicily,’ Christian said.
Strong voice: Long Island’s Christian Guardino, 21, went next and unleashed his strong voice
‘My family is off the boat from Albania,’ Bebe said. ‘We are cut from the same thread.’
He sang the song for Bebe and she told him that it was amazing. After Christian performed for the judges and the crowd at the resort, Lionel stood up.
‘I don’t know if we have ever had this on ‘American Idol,’ can we get a root check on that brother right there?’ Lionel said. ‘ You see him and then you hear him and it’s two different people.’
‘Christian when you sing you become a superhero,’ Katy said. ‘It’s like Clark Kent turns into Superman, all right in front of our very eyes. You start singing and you can fly.’
‘The people are going to fall in love with you, the person, and then they are going to hear your voice,’ Luke said. ‘You got all the talent, all the tools, but sometimes you gotta get the head game in there too and be smart about all your tactics.’
Ryan asked what was going through his mind.
‘I’m honored to just be here,’ Christian said. ‘This is insane.’
‘I love him,’ Bebe said. ‘He’s so sweet.’
Katyrah Love, 23, from Baltimore went next. She told Bebe that she grew up in a religious household and while her parents would have preferred for her to sing gospel or classical music , they were proud of her.
Baltimore singer: Katyrah Love, 23, from Baltimore went next
‘It took a long time for them to get on board with my secular music,’ Katyrah said. ‘However, they are super supportive now and I really want to make them proud.’
Katyrah told Bebe she picked ‘Blame it On the Boogie’ by The Jacksons as her song. Bebe encouraged her to sing the song in a lower key.
After her performance, Katyrah shared that her parents were in the audience. The camera zoomed in on them and they jumped up and down with excitement.
‘They look like they are really in love,’ Ryan said.
‘Yes, they have been married for 27 years,’ Katyrah said.
Fun song: She picked ‘Blame it On the Boogie’ by The Jacksons as her song
Teaming up Bebe encouraged Katyrah to perform her song in a lower key
‘Never been married,’ Ryan said. ‘I have so many questions.’
Luke told Katyrah that her performance seemed natural.
‘You just put on a show,’ Luke said. ‘None of it was premeditated. Everything seemed natural and it was a great, great job.’
‘I want you to bring Mom and Dad everywhere because you were performing,’ Lionel said. ‘I palsy tell people every day, singing is one half of the equation. The other half is, are they having a good time? Because if they are not it is your job to make sure they get up.’
‘You were using that energy,’ Katy said. ‘You are bottling it up and then singing with it. You can sing anything. You could ding the ABCs and make it sound like the best song ever.’
‘Mission accomplished?’ Ryan asked.
‘I’d say so,’ Katyrah said.
American Idol will return Sunday on ABC with a three-hour show.