“American Idol” runner-up Willie Spence died in a car accident in Tennessee on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, police told Heavy. Now the “American Idol” judges pay tribute to Spence and mourn his loss.
TMZ reports that the 23-year-old singer was on her way home to Atlanta when the crash occurred.
Spence captured the hearts of “American Idol” viewers when he auditioned for Rihanna’s song “Diamonds.” He reached the final and eventually finished second, behind Chayce Beckham.
Luke Bryan shared Spence’s audition video on his Instagram Stories.
“Willie really lit up every room he entered,” Bryan wrote. “He could change the mood right away when he started singing. He will be truly missed.”
The official “American Idol” account also shared the news of Spence’s death along with a tribute video on Instagram.
“We are devastated by the passing of our beloved American Idol relative, Willie Spence,” the official account reads. “He was a true talent who lit up every room he entered and will be sorely missed. We extend our condolences to his loved ones.”
Katy Perry responded to the post.
“Love you Willy…purest soul. Sing with the angels my darling,” the American Idol jury wrote on the post.
“American Idol” alumni Casey Bishop, Ava August, Olivia Ximines and Emyrson Flora also commented on the post. Chayce Beckham, who won season 19 of the show, also shared a tribute to Spence on Instagram.
“I loved Willie very much,” Beckham wrote. “He was a good dear soul, and a warm ray of light in a cold dark world that needed him so much.”
On Spence’s latest Instagram post, he sings in his car next to the caption, “Lord, you are my shelter.” In the video, he sang the 1981 song written by Michael Ledner.
“You’re my shelter / You always fill my heart with songs of liberation / When I’m afraid / I’ll trust in you / I’ll trust in you,” he sang.
Spence released an EP in 2021. The album contained six tracks, titled ‘Forever More’, ‘Chance On Me’, ‘Reckless’, ‘So Gone’, ‘Notice Me’ and ‘One Minute With God’.
The album didn’t include the song titled “Pressure,” which Spence previously teased.
On the week of the “American Idol” finale, Spence visited his hometown of Douglas, Georgia, where Mayor Tony Paulk “declared Tuesday, May 18, Willie Spence Day, and gave him a key to the city,” according to WSB TV.
Governor Brian Kemp declared the entire week “Willie Spence Week” statewide.
Spence hoped to win a Grammy Award, he told the judges when he auditioned for “American Idol.”
“I just want my voice to reach the world and share my gift, hopefully win a Grammy one day,” he said during his audition. “That’s where I see myself in 5 years… It will be hard work, but I think I can do it.”
The singer was preparing to perform in London for the first time on November 12, he shared on Instagram.