By Maureen Lee Lenker
May 12, 2021 at 08:32 PM EDT

Caleb Kennedy's journey on American Idol has come to an abrupt end.

Having made it as far as the final five contestants this season, the 16-year-old country singer announced Wednesday on social media that he is exiting the show after a video surfaced showing him seated next to an individual wearing a hood that resembles the garb of the Ku Klux Klan.

"Hey y'all this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer going to be on American Idol," Kennedy wrote. "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."

Caleb Kennedy
Caleb Kennedy on 'American Idol'
| Credit: Christopher Willard/abc

He continued, "I wanna say I'm 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."

Kennedy's mother, Anita Guy, told the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg, S.C. that the years-old video "was taken after Caleb had watched the movie The Strangers: Prey at Night and they were imitating those characters." She added, "It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that's how it looks. Caleb doesn't have a racist bone in his body."

Kennedy earned fans on the reality competition series for delivering tracks like a country-fied version of Coldplay's "Violet Hill" and "Real Gone," from Cars, on the Disney episode.

EW has confirmed that Kennedy will definitively not be continuing on Idol. Sunday's new episode will now feature the top four, with one contestant elimination.

Read Kennedy's statement above.

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American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.

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