‘American Idol’ Judges Mourn Loss of Runner-Up

American Idol 2021 top 5

ABC "American Idol" judges are paying tribute to Willie Spence after his death.

“American Idol” runner-up Willie Spence died in a car crash in Tennessee on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, police told Heavy. Now, the “American Idol” judges are paying tribute to Spence and mourning his loss.

TMZ reports that the 23-year-old singer was driving home to Atlanta when the crash occurred.

Spence captivated the hearts of viewers of “American Idol” when he auditioned singing the song “Diamonds” by Rihanna. He made it all the way through to the finale before ultimately placing second, behind Chayce Beckham.

Katy Perry and Luke Bryan are Mourning Spence’s Loss

Luke Bryan shared Spence’s audition video on his Instagram Stories.

“Willie really did light up every room he walked into,” Bryan wrote. “He could change the mood instantly when he started singing. He will truly be missed.”

The official “American Idol” account also shared the news of Spence’s death alongside a tribute video on Instagram.

“We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence,” the official account posted. “he was a true talent who lit up every room he entered and will be deeply missed. We send our condolences to his loved ones.”

Katy Perry commented on the post.

“I love you Willie…. purest soul. Sing with the angels my darling,” the “American Idol” judge 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 sweet soul, and a warm beam of light in a cold dark world that needed him so much.”

Spence Was Beloved in the ‘American Idol’ Community & Was Set to Perform in London for the First Time

Spence’s last Instagram post features him singing in his car alongside the caption “Lord you are my hiding place.” In the video, he sang the 1981 song written by Michael Ledner.

“You are my hiding place / You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance / whenever I am afraid / I will trust in You / I will trust in You,” he sang.

Spence released an EP in 2021. The album included six songs, titled “Forever More,” “Chance On Me,” “Reckless,” “So Gone,” “Notice Me,” and “One Minute With God.”

The album did not include the song titled “Pressure,” which Spence previously teased.

The week of the “American Idol” finale, Spence visited his hometown of Douglas, Georgia, where Mayor Tony Paulk “declared Tuesday, May 18 as 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” throughout the state.

Spence was hoping 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 winning a Grammy one day,” he said during his audition. “That’s where I see myself in 5 years… It’s going to take hard work, but I think I can do it.”

The singer was gearing up to perform in London for the first time on November 12, he shared on Instagram.

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