Willie Spence was the runner-up on season 19 of American Idol. He sang “The Circle of Life” and “Georgia on My Mind” with a lot of emotion. On Tuesday, he died in a car accident in Nashville, Tennessee. He was 23.
Tuesday at 4 p.m. local time, Spence’s Jeep Cherokee went off the road and hit the back of a tractor-trailer parked on the side of Interstate 24. This is according to a preliminary report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Marion County Medical Examiner, which the outlet got.
Spence was wearing a seatbelt when the accident happened, so he was pronounced dead at the scene. “Multi-system trauma due to motor vehicle accident” was listed as the reason for his death, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol is looking into it, the news source says.
The man from Douglas, Georgia, wowed the judges when he auditioned in 2021 by singing Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” He made it all the way to the finale, where he came in second place behind Chayce Beckham.
The show wrote on Instagram, “We are heartbroken that our beloved American Idol family member Willie Spence has died.” “He was a real talent who made every room he walked into brighter. He will be sorely missed. We’re sorry for his family and friends.”
Luke Bryan, who was a judge during Spence’s season, wrote in his Instagram Story that he remembered the singer. “Every room Willie walked into was really brightened up by him,” he wrote. “When he sang, he could change the mood in an instant. He will be missed very much.”
Katharine McPhee, a former Idol contestant who sang “The Prayer” by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli with Spence on the show, shared her sadness on social media Tuesday night.
She wrote in an Instagram Story, “I got some very sad news tonight.” “A car accident took the life of sweet Willie Spence. She is only 23. Life is so unfair, and you can never count on anything. God rest your soul, Willie. I enjoyed singing with you and getting to know you.”
McPhee also wrote a comment on Spence’s pinned Instagram post “You deserved the stars and the moon, Sweet Willie. I’m so sorry that people won’t get to spend more time with you. You really were an Angel. I know you are now with the other angels up there. God rest your soul.”
During his audition, Spence told Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie that his dream was to use his voice to “reach the world.” He also said, “In five years, I hope to have won a Grammy.” He said, “It will take hard work, but I think I can do it.”
During his career as a musician, Spence put out a set of singles and an EP called The Voice in April 2021. “The Living Years,” his last single with Briana Moir, came out in August. Spence was also scheduled to play at the Trinity Baptist Church in London on Nov. 12. This was to be his first concert in the U.K.