‘American Idol’ Runner-Up Willie Spence Dead At 23
According to a news outlet in his hometown of Douglas, Georgia, the beloved singer “passed away due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Tennessee” on Tuesday (October 11).
Katharine McPhee, who performed a duet with Spence during his season 19 appearance, confirmed the news on her Instagram Story. “I received very tragic news tonight,” she wrote alongside a clip of her meeting the late contestant. “Sweet @williespenceofficial passed away in a car accident. Only 23 years old.”
McPhee continued, “Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised. God rest your soul Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and to know you.”
Hours before his passing, Spence shared a video of him singing on Instagram. “Lord you are my hiding place”, he captioned the clip.
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In 2021, Spence immediately became an Idol stand-out with his initial audition, performing “Diamonds” by Rihanna. He quickly became a fan- and judge-favorite, making his way to the season 19 finale, where he sang “Georgia on My Mind,” “A Change is Gonna Come,” and “Stand Up.”
After the competition, Spence went on to release an EP titled The Voice, and he was set to perform in London in November.
Willie Spence, the American Idol runner-up in the 2021 Season 19 of the competition series, died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a car accident in Tennessee. He was 23.
His death was reported by the local news outlet DouglasNow.com, based in Spence’s hometown of Douglas, Georgia. Details on the accident were not immediately available, but according to TMZ, Spence was driving from Tennessee to his home in Atlanta when he collided with a parked truck.
Singer Katharine McPhee, who performed a duet with Spence of the song “The Prayer,” written by McPhee’s husband David Foster during a Season 19 appearance, tweeted her condolences, noting “Sweet @williespenceofficial passed away in a car accident. Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised.”
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Spence won over Idol judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie with his San Diego audition performance of Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” Richie said Spence was “so gifted, on the first note I had chills.”
Spence ultimately placed second for the season, losing the top spot to Chayce Beckham.
Spence later released an EP titled The Voice, and performed frequently. At the time of his death, he was scheduled to perform in London on Nov. 12.