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Willie Spence’s ‘Idol’ Castmates Mourn His Death: ‘Hard to Find the Words’

Among singer Willie Spence’s biggest fans were the contestants he competed against on “American Idol” in 2021, many of whom are struggling to process the news of the singer’s tragic death on October 11, 2022. who became close friends with the gospel singer during his journey on the show, where he took second place and jump-started his promising music career.

During Season 19 of “American Idol,” which began auditioning in the fall of 2020 and airing on ABC in the spring of 2021, Willie Spence of Douglas, Georgia, rose to fame as a humble, gentle yet powerful gospel singer who blew the judges week. gone after a week.

The singer took second place in the competition, just behind country singer Chayce Beckham, who expressed his love for Spence just before the season’s final results and said they would be friends forever. On October 12, in an effort to process the news of Spence’s fatal car accident, Beckham posted an emotional tribute to his friend and castmate on Instagram.

“It’s hard to find the words to say here except I loved Willie very much,” Beckham wrote, sharing a video of Spence’s performance. “He was a good dear soul, and a warm ray of light in a cold and dark world that needed him so much. When Willie sang, I swear it would shake an entire room. I think Willie had a voice that God gave him specifically to spread his message, when Willie sang the gospel it made you cry.”

Beckham continued: ‘Willie also had a smile that made you melt, an honest humor you could only love, and the biggest heart imaginable, all wrapped up in one person. His life energy was infectious and I loved being around him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and fans who I know loved him so much and held close to his heart. I can’t wait to sing with you in Paradise, where I know I’ll see you again. Rest in peace brother.”

Singer Kya Moneé, who performed a duet of the song “Stay” with Spence during Hollywood Week that drew all three judges to their feet, was stunned by the news, sharing on Instagram that Spence had recently encouraged her to keep moving forward in her music career. .

In addition to posting multiple heartbroken emojis, she wrote, “I’m not strong enough for this. we were just talking about me taking a lim on my dream and just going for it… man I can’t love you keep @williespenceofficial”

Alyssa Wray, with whom Spence was due to perform in New York City on October 18, shared an emotional tribute in which she said she was sick of his death.

Wray also posted a home video of Spence singing the gospel classic “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” and wrote in the comments that they were at home with “Idol” castmate Anilee List, with Deshawn Goncalves, another castmate, playing the piano.

“I remember we were all jamming and venting at Anilee’s house,” Wray wrote. “When Willie started to sing, you listened. You bent over. That’s a gift. Thank you Jesus for that gift.”

Season 19’s Grace Kinstler, who bonded with Spence on the show and performed a duet with him on the 2022 reunion show “Idol,” posted two photos of them together, including a Polaroid of the duo sitting on a couch, and wrote a heartfelt note for him.

She wrote, “Willie, I’m sorry I don’t have more eloquent words for you now. It doesn’t feel real. Thank you for your heart and thank you for reminding us all that there is nothing more refreshing than being authentic and keeping it 100% at all times. I will miss your smile, the face you would make if you didn’t like something or felt uncomfortable, and especially the smile you put on the faces and hearts of everyone around you the moment you entered a room. Rest in peace, love you very much, friend.”

Casey Bishop, who made the Top 4 of Season 19, also shared a photo of her with Spence and captioned it with a heartbreaking post.

“This is so heartbreaking and unreal,” she wrote. “I don’t understand why this happened, it’s just hard not to think to myself ‘why’… Willie was so kind, gentle, hilarious, generous, incredibly talented and loved by so many. His energy was so beautiful and infectious and when you met him you loved him. I love you so much Willie, so many people do.”

Bishop continued: “My brain doesn’t really know how to deal with the fact that you are no longer here on this earth. I know you’re in heaven now, but it’s hard to imagine that I’ll never see or speak to you again in this life. You are so special, I have never met anyone like you and I will be forever grateful to have been able to create a beautiful bond with you. Words cannot describe the feeling this gives me. We will miss you so much … You are unique Willie … Rest in peace my friend”

The grief over Spence’s death extends far beyond his season 19 castmates. They say Spence had such a sweet personality and musical gift that he was known and loved by contestants throughout the show’s 20-year history.

One of those people was Katharine McPhee Foster, season 5’s runner-up, who accompanied and performed a duet of “The Prayer” with Spence during his season on “Idol.” The heartbroken singer and actress was one of the first to speak out on social media about the accident. Late on October 11, she posted in her Instagram Stories that she had just received word of Spence’s death.

“I got some very tragic news tonight,” she wrote. “Sweet @williespenceofficial has died in a car accident. Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised. God rest your soul Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and get to know you.”

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