Caleb Johnson

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Caleb Johnson
Birth nameCaleb Perry Johnson
Born (1991-04-23) April 23, 1991 (age 28)
Asheville, North Carolina, United States
GenresRock, hard rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, piano
Years active2010–present
LabelsBig Johnson Records, Interscope, 19
Associated actsElijah Hooker (lead singer)

Caleb Perry Johnson (born April 23, 1991) is an American singer who won the thirteenth season of American Idol.

Early life[edit]

Caleb Johnson was born on April 23, 1991 to David and Tamra Johnson in Asheville, North Carolina.[1][2] His mother works as an accountant, his father is a former football coach and works for the Parks and Recreation Department of Buncombe County, North Carolina, but both have backgrounds in music.[3][4][5][6] He attended Clyde A. Erwin High School in Asheville and graduated in 2009.[7] He played some sports in high school, joined the drama club and chorus, and did some mission work and some volunteering at his church, Calvary Baptist.[8]

Johnson became interested in singing around age 17 when Josh Sawyer, who had a band in his high school, asked him to be the lead singer. The first song he performed in public in his high school was "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.[9] He took part in a talent show while in high school with a band called Gorgon.[10] He considers Chris Cornell to be his biggest musical influence, and that Rush is his favorite band.[11][12][13][14]

Music career[edit]

2010: Elijah Hooker[edit]

After graduating Erwin High School in Asheville, North Carolina, on June 30, 2009, Caleb Johnson first joined a band called Rock Bottom as its lead singer.[8] A year later, he joined his friend Josh Sawyer in rock band called Elijah Hooker and became its lead vocalist.[1] Sawyer is the lead guitarist of the band; the other members of the band included Brian Turner on Keyboard, Shawn Foerst on bass, and Colten Emery on drums.[15][16]

Elijah Hooker released its self-titled debut album Elijah Hooker in June 2013. The 10-track album featured "Happiest Man" as its lead track.[16]

2011-14: American Idol[edit]

Johnson auditioned for American Idol three times in four years. He first auditioned for the tenth season of American Idol in 2011. He was put through to Hollywood Week and was in a Hollywood group with James Durbin. In 2012, Johnson auditioned for the eleventh season and made it to the Top 42. He had difficulties in his performance of "Old Time Rock and Roll" and was cut at the Top 24 selection. He took the following year off from auditioning to improve on his stage presence.[17]

Johnson auditioned again in 2014 for the thirteenth season and made it to the top 20. In the semifinal round, he was voted by America into the top five male contestants, giving him a spot in the season's top 13. Johnson got positive feedback from the judges every week, had strong performances, and became the only finalist in the season to never land in the bottom 3 prior to reaching the finale. That season, Johnson was declared the winner.

Season 13 of American Idol[edit]

Episode Theme Song choice Original artist Order Result
Audition Auditioner's Choice "Into the Void" (original composition) Caleb Johnson N/A Advanced
Hollywood Round A Capella "Sympathy for the Devil" The Rolling Stones N/A
Group Performance "Too Close"

with Tyler Ahlgren, Matthew Hamel, and CJ Harris

Alex Clare N/A
Solo "Radioactive" Imagine Dragons N/A
Top 31 (10 Men) Personal Choice "Stay with Me" Faces 1
Top 13 This Is Me "Pressure and Time" Rival Sons 13 Safe
Top 12 Home "Working Man" Rush 6
Top 11 Songs from the Cinema "Skyfall" Adele 7
Top 10 Billboard Top 10 "The Edge of Glory" Lady Gaga 6
Top 9 I'm with the Band! "Dazed and Confused" Jake Holmes 6
Top 8 Back to the Start Duet "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around"
with Jessica Meuse
Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty 5
Solo "Chain of Fools" Aretha Franklin 11
Top 8 Songs from the 1980s Solo "Faithfully" Journey 12
Duet "It's Only Love"
with Jena Irene
Bryan Adams & Tina Turner 5
Top 7 Competitors' Choice Duet "Gimme Shelter"
with Jena Irene
The Rolling Stones 6
Solo "Family Tree" Kings of Leon 1
Top 6 Rock 'n' Roll "Sting Me" The Black Crowes 5
Country "Undo It" Carrie Underwood 8
Top 5 America's Requests Solo "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" Aerosmith 2
Duet "Beast of Burden"
with Jessica Meuse
The Rolling Stones 7
Solo "Still of the Night" Whitesnake 12
Top 4 Love Songs "You Give Love a Bad Name" Bon Jovi 1
"Travelin' Band" Creedence Clearwater Revival 5
"Maybe I'm Amazed" Paul McCartney 9
Top 3 Randy Jackson's Choice "Never Tear Us Apart" INXS 1
Judges' Choice "Demons" Imagine Dragons 4
Hometown's Choice "Dazed and Confused" Jake Holmes 7
Finale Simon Fuller's Choice "Dream On" Aerosmith 2 Winner
Reprisal Song "Maybe I'm Amazed" Paul McCartney 4
Winner's Single "As Long as You Love Me" Caleb Johnson 6

2014-present: Testify, independent EP and upcoming second studio album[edit]

Soon after Johnson won American Idol he started working on his debut album. The album was recorded in three weeks and Johnson collaborated with musicians such as Howard Benson, Aloe Blacc, Brian Howes, Blair Daly and James Michael. Testify was released on August 12, 2014.[18] It is the quickest an American Idol winner has released a debut album.

After parting ways with his record label in late 2015, Johnson began working on his second album independently.[19] The album will be released in 2016, and the lead single, "Holding On," was released on February 9, 2016. Johnson is now self-releasing as Big Johnson Records.[20] A second single, "Hanging with the Band," was released on April 7, 2016.[21]

After a Pledge Music campaign,[22] Johnson released a new EP, "Born from Southern Ground".[citation needed]

In 2018 Caleb joined the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for their winter tour singing on "Three Kings & I."[citation needed]


Studio albums[edit]

with Elijah Hooker
  • 2013: Elijah Hooker
Title Details Peak chart positions Sales
  • Released: August 12, 2014
  • Label: Interscope, 19
  • Formats: CD, digital download
24 9


Year Song Peak positions Sales Album
2014 "As Long As You Love Me" 41 Testify
"Only One"
2015 "Fighting Gravity"[28]
2016 "Holding On" Born from Southern Ground
"Hanging with the Band"
Release from "American Idol"

Music videos[edit]

Year Song
2015 "Fighting Gravity"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bronson, Fred (20 March 2014). "'American Idol' Season 13: Caleb Johnson Outlines His Rock 'n' Roll Childhood Education". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 21 March 2014.
  2. ^ Bernie Delinski (February 25, 2014). "Sound of Shoals soul in 'Idol' finalist's voice". Times Daily.
  3. ^ "American Idol finalists mom 'stuck in reality'". Wach Fox. March 28, 2014.
  4. ^ "Bring American Idol to Asheville - Vote 4 Caleb!". Buncombe County.
  5. ^ Bernie Delinski (May 22, 2014). "Son's 'American Idol' victory thrills Shoals native". Times Daily.
  6. ^ Andrew Reeser (April 24, 2014). "Fans of Asheville 'Idol' contestant gather to watch Johnson". Fox Carolina.
  7. ^ James McCray (May 22, 2014). "Asheville's own Caleb Johnson wins "American Idol"". WYFF
  8. ^ a b Susan Reinhardt (30 May 2014). "A long way from home". Smoky Mountain Living.
  9. ^ Alissa Schulman (May 14, 2014). "American Idol Top 3 Finalists: 24 Things You Don't Know About Us".
  10. ^ "Before American Idol…". Mix 96.5. (audio)
  11. ^ Lauren Weigle (March 5, 2014). "Caleb Johnson from 'American Idol': 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know".
  12. ^ "Caleb Johnson (American Idol)". PopTower.
  13. ^ "American Idol: Season 13 Contestants". GoldDerby.
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Elijah Hooker". Reverb Nation. Archived from the original on 2014-05-22. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  16. ^ a b Marshall, Alli (9 May 2014). "Caleb Johnson: from Elijah Hooker to "American Idol"". Mountain Xpress. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  17. ^ Callan Gray (March 26, 2014). "Family of local American Idol contestant say third time's the charm". Archived from the original on 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2014-06-01.
  18. ^ Mansfield, Brian. "Caleb Johnson testifies about his debut album". USA Today. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "iTunes - Music - Caleb Johnson by Caleb Johnson". iTunes. Apple Inc. Retrieved 23 May 2014.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Ryan Book (May 4, 2015). "'American Idol' Alum Caleb Johnson Leaving Interscope Records". Music Times.
  26. ^ Ayers, Mike (January 6, 2016). "'American Idol' Stars, Ranked by Album Sales". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  27. ^ Emily White (May 29, 2014). "Coldplay Collects Third No. 1 On Top Rock Albums". Billboard.
  28. ^

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Candice Glover
American Idol winner
Succeeded by
Nick Fradiani