‘American Idol’ Judges Open Up About Kenedi Anderson’s ‘Heartbreaking’ Exit: ‘She Was a Great One’

Many American Idol fans are still reeling from Kenedi Anderson’s sudden departure in season 20 — and that includes the judges. In a recent interview, Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry got candid about Kenedi quitting the competition, sharing how “heartbroken” they felt to see her go. Still, they knew Kenedi would succeed either way. Here’s what the judges had to say.

Kenedi Anderson performs in Hawaii for the Top 24 on American Idol.
‘American Idol’ contestant Kenedi Anderson performs in Hawaii. | Karen Neal/ABC

Kenedi Anderson announced her departure from ‘American Idol’ in the Top 24

Kenedi performed in Hawaii during the April 11 episode of American Idol, just like the other members of the Top 24. However, fans didn’t know until her performance ended that it would be her last in the competition. Instead of reminding viewers to vote for Kenedi, host Ryan Seacrest announced that she had dropped out after taping the Top 24 episode.

Later, Kenedi took to social media to share a statement about her exit. She explained that she had to drop out for “personal reasons” but called it “one of the hardest decisions” she’s had to make.

“I’m so grateful to American Idol, the judges, the producers, the amazing contestants, and all the fans who have supported me,” she wrote. “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.”

‘American Idol’ judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry said they’re ‘heartbroken’ over Kenedi Anderson’s exit

The American Idol judges finally broke their silence about Kenedi Anderson’s exit after Monday night’s Top 14 reveal episode. Speaking to USA Today, Lionel Richie said Kenedi had “unbelievable” potential. Meanwhile, Luke Bryan said the judges “wish nothing but the best” for Kenedi in her future.

“These kids, they got a lot coming at ’em. I think, potentially for her career, her being a part of our family is as good as the route or the way to the top can be,” Luke added. “But, if you’re having doubts and anxieties and other things … we’re heartbroken as a show because she was so dynamic and great.”

Neither Kenedi nor the judges shared specifics on why she had to leave. However, Lionel commented on the pressure of the competition.

“Singing is the easy part. If you know what we go through from a pressure point of view, most artists can’t take it,” he explained. “It’s just that simple. And it’s not a survivable business, let me say it that way. So when you get under pressure that young in life, I get it.”

Katy Perry admitted Kenedi’s absence paves the way for ‘other voices’ in the competition

Kenedi had been a fan-favorite in American Idol Season 20 since her audition. She wowed the judges with a slow piano cover of Lady Gaga’s “Applause.” When she finished singing, Katy Perry immediately declared herself a fan of Kenedi’s and said she was one of the best artists they had seen so far. In the end, Kenedi walked away with one of three platinum tickets to Hollywood.

Katy thought Kenedi could go on to become the next Idol. However, she said the singer’s exit can allow other contestants to prove they’re on the same path. She told USA Today:

“I mean, look, she was a great one, but I do think that we have such incredible other voices that have now even stepped forward a little bit more. It’s just really another opportunity for one of these incredible contestants, and we wish nothing but the best for her. … I say #GBHOJ: God bless her on her journey. Oh, I missed an H. But you know what I’m saying.”

New episodes of American Idol air on Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for more updates.

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