Luke Bryan better watch out, because American Idol contestant Caleb Hutchinson could very well be the next big thing in country music. The 19-year-old Georgia native now stands in the top three of Season 16 alongside competitors Maddie Poppe and fellow country music enthusiast Gabby Barrett. The fact that he's the only guy remaining isn't the only thing that sets him apart, though. His booming baritone voice makes him a unique contender, and his classic charm keeps his "hutchpuppies" (that's what he calls his fans) swooning.
From the looks of his Twitter header photo, he's been clutching a guitar and donning a wide-brimmed cowboy hat since he was a wee tyke. And from what he has shared about himself on Idol, he's just your typical country boy — his two biggest loves in this world are his dog and his momma. In Episode 15, themed "Disney Night" after the cast spent the entire week at Disney Land, they each sang a Disney song of their choice. Hutchinson chose to sing Toy Story's classic, "You've Got A Friend In Me," and dedicated it to his "best friend," his chocolate Labrador named Hershey. "He really is my best pal," he said on the show.
As if his love for his pup isn't endearing enough, when he met Carrie Underwood in Episode 17, he couldn't wait to tell his mom about it, knowing she's a huge fan. "My momma is like, your biggest fan in the world," Hutchinson told Underwood on the show. "And she's gonna die when she realizes I met you and she didn't get a chance to." She tells him she would love to meet his mom, and he responds with, "You have to, I'll never have to get her another Christmas gift ever."
Although he's always been the sweet southern guy he is now, when he auditioned in front of the American Idol judges last summer, he was a very different person. He approached the judges, blushing, his voice audibly shaking — he seemed to lack confidence in his self. But when he let loose to sing for the first time on national television, the judges knew he had nothing to worry about. He sang and played "If It Hadn't Been For Love" by the SteelDrivers. "Your voice is well above your age," Lionel Richie told him.
Since getting his ticket to Hollywood, a lot has changed for Hutchinson. He's made many new friends in his Idol cast mates is holding his head up high and sailing through the competition.
Hutchinson also recently released a single that really speaks to his old soul, titled "Johnny Cash Heart." Listening to him sing without seeing him on the Idol stage is kind of a disorienting experience, because he truly doesn't sound like he just graduated high school. The song has already made the Top 20 country music charts on iTunes and his new fans can't get enough of it.
After the live taping of Idol on Mother's Day, Hutchinson sat down for an interview with Parade in which he talked about his plans for the finale (Part 1 airs Sunday, May 20). "I’ve got some things up my sleeve, for sure, and I’ve got some things I’m very excited about," he said in the interview. "The songs I’m going to sing next week are very much who I am, where I come from, and what I want to be to the world, so I’m very excited."
He also told Parade he's really excited to get home, hang out with his family again, and most importantly, enjoy some of his mom's home cooking. "No disrespect to L.A.," he said. "I just haven’t had mama’s biscuits in a while." After the two-part finale ends on Monday, May 21, he and the Idol top seven will be prepping for a nationwide tour, and who knows what else will take off in his music career, so he may need to ask his momma to pack some biscuits to-go.