‘American Idol’ Hopeful Caleb Lee Hutchinson Puts His Future in His Fans’ Hands
Caleb Lee Hutchinson got the news on the Monday (April 16) episode of American Idol that he is one of the Top 14 contestants. That means he's moving into the live shows and essentially putting his future in country music in fans' hands.
"I’ve tried to go into everything on the show without any sort of expectations, but that moment when they were calling out of the names of the finalists was really scary," the 19-year-old admits.
Hutchinson has been a pliable country performer thus far — this week he sang with Bebe Rexha, but it was a country song — but doesn't stray too far from his lane. We've heard him cover Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line and Josh Turner. His 'schtick' seems to be working. America digs it, and so do the judges.
"There were a lot of names called before mine was. It felt so surreal once I heard my name called," he recalls.
He's had judge Luke Bryan in his corner, and it has helped. "All the contestants get an equal amount of time with the judges so it’s all fair, but I’m so glad he’s here," Hutchinson admits. "He knows so much about country music and I do believe that he critiques me harder than (judges Katy Perry and Lionel Ritchie) because of it. It’s just an honor to be able to sing for him."
It has been a surreal experience for the Georgia native Hutchinson, who tried out when American Idol's bus tour came through Atlanta. "My life has completely changed since that moment," he says. He's already got a fanbase called the Hutchpuppies.
"I’m in a unique position as one of the only country artists left. So many people have reached out in support," he says, admitting that, "It’s a real cool position to be in."
Hutchinson shared on Monday's (April 16) episode that he has lost 70 pounds since he first appeared on the show back in August — he's on a superstar trajectory. "There is just something about having a certain amount of weight off of you,” he says. "It gives you more agility and more confidence and it certainly helps when you are out here on this wild ride."
He's the second coming of Scotty McCreery in some ways — he's young, wholesome, handsome, country as all get out and wildly popular — and we know how that story has gone. But don't think any of this — the weight loss, time in Hollywood, attention from Bryan — is going to his head.
"I’ve never been anything but authentic,” Hutchinson tells Taste of Country. "I never gravitated toward anything as much as I did country music. It’s in my blood."
"Even when I was really young, I just wanted to be Johnny Cash. I wanted to wear all black ... all the time," he says with a laugh. "I also loved Merle Haggard and Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings."
And while Hutchinson admits that he has no idea what might be around the corner for him on the show, he does know that this is an incredible time to be in country music and he certainly hopes to make it his career from now until forever.
"I think the trends in country music are starting to come around, especially when you see what Sturgill (Simpson) and Chris (Stapleton) and (Jason) Isbell are doing out there. If there ever was anything else that I felt as confident doing as I do singing country music, I would have done it by now," he says. "This is in my blood and I don’t want that to ever end."
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