While “America’s Got Talent” and “Britain’s Got Talent” remain the most frequent talk of the town, “American Idol” is still right behind, and at no point in recent history was it more prominent in the media than early March 2022, when 17-year old Kenedi Anderson walked onto the floor in front of the fateful three, with a nervous ‘Hi!’
Kenedi presented herself and said where she’s from, after which judge Luke Bryan became curious about her birthplace – Crozet, Virginia USA. She explained how her father is in the football business, which causes him to have to move frequently, so she’s never in one place for too long.
More details were revealed in her personal showreel, with the young singer stating ‘I have been moving basically my whole life. It’s so hard starting over and readjusting to new places. It’s tough sometimes, it really is, and it can get really lonely. Having a big family has helped me a lot. I’m one of six children – the second oldest.’
The child star’s parents and siblings are obviously her greatest support, to whose credit it is that she ultimately mustered the courage to grace the small screen, and what a famous decision that turned out to be. She said ‘We’re all pretty close, and we’ve been through a lot together. Everyone in my family is really athletic, and then 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.’
There is apparently a dramatic story behind the teen’s tumultuous life, but she chose not to reveal such details by simply stating ‘I’m happy where I am now, and I’m thankful for all the experiences in my life that have led me to this point. I feel like there’s no better time in my life than right now to audition for “American Idol.”’
Instead of just standing there and singing, like most contestants tend to do in this show, she also went over to the left and sat at the white piano. Her choice for the audition was Lady Gaga’s “Applause.” Judge Katy Perry said ‘Oh cool,’ crossed her arms, and watched curiously as the child readied to dazzle them.
The judges began smiling almost as soon as she started singing, but none so prominently as Katy Perry, who became awash with honest, childish joy. Her face went through several emotions throughout Kenedi’s performance, from pleasantly surprised to fulsomely shocked at how enchanting the teen’s voice is.
Katy’s reactions were so clearly visible, and out of place compared to her normal self, that several eminent news outlets covered the audition. As a result, Kenedi got plenty of exposure around the world too, allowing her to jump-start a career even without favorable results in the contest itself, but those were sure to come by as well.
It’s important to note that many promising singers tried their hand at “American Idol,” as it’s generally seen as the place for singers, along with “The Voice,” whereas “America’s Got Talent” has a much broader and less focused range. With that in mind, the reactions Kenedi got from the judges are that much more impressive, since they’re used to quality voices and good singing.
Luke Bryan started dancing to the performance, while Lionel Richie simply nodded with a big smile. All three knew they’d struck the golden vein with Kenedi, who got better and better as the song went on. By the time she was done, all three were standing up and clapping. Anderson got really nervous seeing their reaction and waved her hands yelling ‘Stop!’
She was immediately bombarded with extremely positive comments, such as Perry’s ‘Can you sign this?’ Lionel exclaimed ‘I need two back-stage passes right now.’ Katy legitimately asked her ‘What are the names of your fans?’ Kenedi stopped smiling for a second and waved her head away, saying ‘I don’t have any,’ and that was enough for Katy to invent it herself, yelling ‘I’m a Keni!’ Anderson just said ‘Oh my god!’, and the idol started screaming in excitement.
DUET ROUND NEXT TIME…. Who will I choose??? #americanidol #kenedionidol #kenicat #keni #hollywoodweek
Kenedi couldn’t even talk due to how much fun the judges were having commenting between themselves on her performance. Katy Perry stated ‘I’m a Keni-cat’ as Luke replied ‘God, you beat me to it!’ He continued with ‘I mean, my head is spinning.’ Katy said ‘I’m feeling threatened. They’re younger! They’re skinnier! They’re prettier! They sing really good.’
The famous singer then took her phone and vehemently exclaimed ‘Siri, make an appointment at the plastic surgeon’ into it. She then continued seriously, saying ‘I don’t know how you haven’t been recruited. You check every box, and a lot of all of them. Get ready to become your own hero.’ All Anderson could say was ‘Thank you so much!’
Judge Lionel spread his arms and shouted ‘Hallelujah! Okay, you don’t understand. We can sit there 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, congratulations. You have answered our prayers.’
Luke Bryan simply looked over at the other two and spoke with conviction: ‘Well, I believe you might be the biggest star we’ve ever seen. No doubt, I believe top 10.’ Katy interjected with ‘She was born to be a star,’ which Bryan agreed with, saying ‘You were. You were. I truly believe your musical journey for the rest of your life just started right here.’
Kenedi could barely hold back tears, pressing the lower eyelids with her index fingers. Luke then asked if she arrived at the audition alone, or did someone accompany her there. It turned out that the child singer’s mother was right there from the get-go, supporting her all along the uncertain journey to stardom.
Bryan said ‘Go holler at mama,’ and Kenedi went to do so. Katy just stared at the floor and kept talking: ‘Younger, skinnier, prettier.’ Her mother then came in, after which Perry and Luke spoke almost in unison, saying ‘Your second-born has just blown our faces off.’
Katy then had a change of heart and decided to praise Kenedi with their greatest compliment, hinting at something akin to the golden buzzer from the “Got Talent” franchise. She said ‘You’re so good that you deserve a break.’ Luke agreed, proceeding with ‘In each city this year, we have decided to do a special ticket upgrade.’
Katy said ‘That’s right, twenty years of creating superstars.’ Luke added ‘And now we feel like we definitely got us a superstar on our hands.’ Lionel finished the explanation with ‘We know what we’re doing.’
Perry then went back to jokes, saying ‘I’d like to be your manager, producer, and…’ Luke cut back to the chase with ‘So, listen, people don’t realize, but within all of those golden tickets, look, there, do you notice something unique about that wall?’ Kenedi finally spoke, saying ‘I’ve never seen it in person, but there’s a bigger one in the middle.’
Luke proudly explained ‘Ah, that is called our twenty-year anniversary platinum ticket, and it will allow you to go through one of the rounds in Hollywood week.’ Kenedi covered her face, finding it really difficult to hold back tears as Katy further explained ‘You can sit, and watch, and strategize.’ Lionel added ‘Size up your competition.’ Finally, all three of the judges proclaimed: ‘You are going to Hollywood!’
Anderson grabbed the big ticket from the wall and exited with her mother, showing in the post-performance interview that she’s pleasantly shocked, saying ‘It is just insane to me, like, I cannot believe that they think that I’m worthy of this, and that just gives me so much self-confidence, and so much happiness.’
Kenedi in Hollywood
Although everything started out great for the young singer, tension began to mount as she arrived in the city of film. Having skipped the first round and eyed the competition, she had the responsibility of picking her duet partner for the next stage of the show. Anderson ultimately chose to sing with fellow contestant Jordan Chase.
— Kenedi Anderson (@kenedianderson_) March 7, 2022
The two named themselves Hot Mess and went for the Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” as their song of choice, practicing it arduously every day before the big one. In the interview preceding the performance, Kenedi said ‘I’m not comfortable in the position that I’m in, but I still need to prove myself to the judges, and to all the other contestants that I belong in this competition.’
Lionel, as the duo’s mentor, checked how they were feeling prior to entering the stage. Jordan admitted that he’s nervous, and Kenedi just had a lost look in her eyes. The judge said ‘You’re in your head. You’re not paying attention. Got a little platinum person up there, who has kinda missed the whole game of the pressure, but still, it’s on you. But the most important part of this is, relax. You’ve got the weapon, all you need now is deliver. That’s the hard part.’
Both teens nodded nervously listening to the experienced singer, trying to follow his advice and stay collected. Finally, Lionel said ‘You’re either gonna shrink, or you’re gonna shine.’ The two went for a chat immediately after, in which Kenedi said ‘I think we’re so nervous and worked up right now, but we just need to listen to what Lionel told us, like, he literally said ‘Just relax.’’
Understandably, the pressure was even greater on Chase, as in his own words ‘It’s been really stressful, because I need to show up and I need to perform to the best of my abilities, and I don’t wanna bring her down.’ It seems neither of the two wanted to disappoint anyone, as Kenedi stated ‘I wanted to show the judges that I still deserve the platinum ticket. There’s a reason they gave it to me, and I need to keep stepping my game up every single time.’
They got on the stage and sang their hearts out, which was met with mixed feelings across the judges’ faces. It was evident that the duet wasn’t pitch perfect, but there was definitely chemistry between their voices. Ultimately, after some deliberation, Luke said ‘You’ve had some hiccups, some fumbles,’ and, after a moment of silence, Katy continued with ‘But, you made magic together, so you’re both going to the next round!’
Anderson’s solo performance and subsequent strange decision
As the contenders braced for the penultimate showdown in the form of solo performances, Kenedi cried tears of anxiety for her duet partner Jordan, saying ‘I think Jordan has a hard time believing in himself. I just know how talented he is, and I know how much he deserves this, and I really want him to make it through.’
Unfortunately for her, Chase indeed failed to qualify for the top 24 who would proceed into the last stage of the show. As he was leaving the premises on his way home, Kenedi hugged him and cried silently on his shoulder. It was now up to her to perform for the both of them.
For her Showstoppers song, Anderson chose Bruno Mars’ “Talking to the Moon,” stating that the reason for this decision was that she ‘got friend-zoned by the guy that I was talking to, two days ago. Trying to reel it in, I’m not crying today. I’ve already cried enough.’ With those words, she got right into the song, dazzling everyone in the massive hall.
Thoroughly impressed, the judges gave her the greatly coveted spot among the last 24. However, the child star then decided to quit. She posted on her Instagram page, where it said that she’s ‘unable to continue on “American Idol.”’ Anderson called that ‘one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make,’ adding ‘but I know it’s necessary.’
This left many fans puzzled over the particular reason for this seemingly ludicrous choice. While the singer herself offered no clear answer, many have speculated that the reason may well be a really strong offer by one of the massive record labels, under whose contract she wouldn’t be allowed to further partake in “American Idol.” The suspicions were later confirmed in one of her TikTok videos.
Until Anderson’s first album is ready for the world, all that fans have to go on is her YouTube channel, with just under 25,000 subscribers. It features four covers and an original song, entitled “This Way.” The channel has close to 900,000 total views, but doesn’t seem to be regularly maintained by Kenedi.