The Real Reason American Idol Front-Runner Kenedi Anderson Quit The Show

Season 20 of "American Idol" has moved past the initial audition phase, as well as the Hollywood stage, and now the top 24 contestants are competing at the Disney Aulani Resort in Hawai'i (via TV Line). This part of the season is the first time viewers of the show can call in and vote for their favorite contestants.

There have certainly been frontrunners along the way, too. Cadence Baker stunned the judges with her performance of an Etta James song, while Katyrah Love looked like a natural on the stage. However, there was a clear favorite for both the fans and judges alike, but her time on the show has been cut short.

Breakout star Kenedi Anderson left the judges speechless with her performance of "Human" by Christina Perri (via Youtube). It doesn't matter now, though, because the 17-year-old powerhouse decided to leave the competition on her own accord, leaving fans shocked and confused (via Today). While not technically an elimination, she definitely counts as one of the most shocking exits in "American Idol" history.

The singer's choice to exit left fans shocked

Kenedi Anderson, who was a fan-favorite on Season 20 of "American Idol," chose to leave the competition due to personal reasons (via Insider). She then took to Instagram to explain her reasoning for stepping away from the high-stakes singing competition show.

"For personal reasons, I'm unable to continue on 'American Idol.' This has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, but I know it's necessary. I'm so grateful to 'American Idol,' the judges, the producers, the amazing contestants, and all the fans who have supported me," the talented singer shared.

When Anderson auditioned, the judges were stunned by her beautiful and mature voice. She shared that music was always something that helped her (via Parade). "Music really is my therapy. Whenever I'm frustrated, whenever I'm feeling down, music is the one thing that has stuck with me, no matter what," she explained on the show. "I'm happy where I am now, and I'm thankful for all the experiences that led me to this point. I feel that there's no better time in my life right now to audition for 'American Idol.'"

Fans thought she could have won the whole competition, but now support her decision to walk away. One fan even commented on her Instagram post, "I literally gasped. I'm so sad. Well wishes to you." Now, she may even become known as one of the most epic "American Idol" auditions ever.

American Idol producers were devastated she left

Following Kenedi Anderson's shock departure, a source told People, "We are disappointed to see Kenedi leave, but we are excited to watch this celebratory 20th season unfold with the incredible talent vying to be the next 'American Idol.'" The talented teen impressed judges and those watching at home alike right from the beginning, with a haunting piano rendition of Lady Gaga's "Applause" during the audition process. Even pop star Katy Perry was floored by it, admitting she was threatened by someone considerably younger than her being so demonstrably gifted.

Anderson notably scored a platinum ticket from all three judges, too, with Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie similarly giving her their seal of approval right off the bat. As Us Weekly notes, Richie marked the singer out as one to watch, explaining, "You don't understand. We can sit here all day long and sing songs, but we are looking for the next 'thing' in the music business. You have graced us because your voice, your look, your sound." There are calls for Anderson to get a record deal, with one commenter on YouTube reasoning she doesn't need the show to succeed.

Does Kenedi Anderson already have a record deal?

Amidst demands for Kenedi Anderson to be snapped up, rumors are now circulating that she might already have a record deal, and moreover that's the real reason the teenager stepped back. The Daily Mail reports that the singer-songwriter recently dropped a brand-new song on TikTok, which seems to hint at her reasons for leaving the show. "Here is the chorus of a song I wrote not too long ago," Anderson explains in the since-deleted clip.

"I need to find, need to find something better than what I had, and with no strings attached," she reportedly sang, adding, "Don't I deserve that? Something with no strings attached." Fans are speculating that Anderson has already scored a record deal, especially since she quickly removed the clip after just a few hours of it being live. As Screen Rant notes, the terms of the "American Idol" recording contract, which is gifted to the winner at the end of each season, are notoriously strict. 

"Hope you got a better opportunity than what American Idol would have given you," wrote one commenter, in response to Anderson's clip, while another pointed out that everybody assumes she's already been signed. Whatever happens next, it's safe to say Anderson's fans are behind her 100%.