I’m Sorry To Hear This Tragic News Willie Spence, Runner-Up On ‘American Idol’ Season 19, Dies At 23
Willie Spence, Runner-Up On 'American Idol' Season 19, Dies At 23
Willie Spence, Runner-Up On ‘American Idol Season 19, Dies At 23
Willie Spence, a singer who as a teenager went viral with his rendition of Rihanna’s hit “Diamonds” and was a finalist on the 19th season of “American Idol,” has died, the show confirmed in a social media post-Wednesday.
I was 23 years old.
“We are devastated by the passing of our beloved member of the American Idol family, Willie Spence,” reads the caption of a video from Spence’s “Idol” audition, posted on the show’s verified Instagram account. “He was a true talent that lit up every room he walked into and he will be sorely missed. We send our condolences to their loved ones.”
The singer was killed in a car accident in Tennessee on Tuesday, according to CNN affiliate WSB, citing the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
Spence was driving an SUV when it went off the road and collided with a car that was stopped on the shoulder, according to the accident report.
TMZ also reported that a family member confirmed to them that Spence died after an accident.
CNN has reached out to Spence’s representatives.
The West Palm Beach, Florida, native moved with his family to Georgia as a child. It was while he was singing at his local high school that Spence was first discovered.
A video of him singing “Diamonds” in what appeared to be a classroom in 2017 went viral and has since racked up more than 15 million views on YouTube.
The performance landed her an appearance on Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show. Spence also chose to perform the song for his “American Idol” audition in 2021.
It shocked judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan with Richie declaring Spence “amazing” and Bryan saying he didn’t want the singer’s performance to end.
“When you think about your future, and you think about the voice that you have because you know it stops people in their tracks, this is the magic that you have, in five years what do you want it to look like?” Perry asked Spence. “In your wildest dreams, if nothing stood in your way?”
“I just want my voice to reach the world and share my gift,” Spence replied. “I hope to win a Grammy one day. That’s where I see myself in five years.”
“American Idol” season five finalist Katharine McPhee Foster took to her Instagram stories to post a tribute to Spence, whom she met on “Idol” during her season.
“I received very tragic news tonight. Sweet @williespenceofficial passed away in a car accident,” he wrote on her Instastory along with a video of her and Spence from the show. “Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised. God rest your soul Willie. It was a pleasure singing with you and meeting you.”
He also shared his latest Instagram post, a video of himself in a car singing the Christian tune “You Are My Hiding Place.”
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