Being a contestant on “The Voice” is a dream come true for many. However, for some, the dream ended in a nightmare. Since the NBC show started airing in 2011, four talented young contestants have met tragic ends.
Anthony Riley, Season 8: Suicide
Anthony Riley is known for having one of the fastest four chair turns in the history of “The Voice.” He sang James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” so forcefully that coaches Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton all hit their buzzers within seconds.
Riley opted for Team Pharrell. He made it through the battle round but voluntarily removed himself from the competition for undisclosed health reasons. According to Parade, “It has been rumored that he did so to check himself into rehab, having struggled with addiction.”
While those rumors were never confirmed, Riley died by suicide at the age of 28 on June 5, 2015, Billboard reported. According to the outlet, “Before joining the show, Riley was a popular street performer in his native Philadelphia.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with assistance in English and Spanish. You can also speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7 by texting HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.
Christina Grimmie, Season 6: Murder
Christina Grimmie was an internet singing sensation before she auditioned for “The Voice” in 2014. Like Riley, Grimmie was also a four-chair turn. Her rendition of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” wowed coaches Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton.
Grimmie ended up on Team Adam and made it all the way to third place in the competition. But her life was cut short two years later when she was gunned down after a concert at the Plaza Live Theater in Orlando on June 10, 2016. The murderer, 22-year-old Kevin James Loibl, shot Grimmie twice before turning the gun and killing himself, according to police. Her brother, Marcus, watched it all unfold.
The official police report states: “As Christina was greeting fans and signing autographs, Marcus saw ‘some guy’ approach her, then he heard several gun shots. Christina fell to the floor and Marcus immediately ‘grabbed the guy’ but after he was able to break free, the suspect put the gun to his own head and fired. Marcus later confirmed ‘100%’ the person who shot Christina is the same person who shot himself.”
A friend of Loibl later told police, according to the police report, that Loibl had an “infatuation with Christina Grimmie [that] was not normal or healthy.”
Grimmie died at an Orlando hospital approximately five hours later, according to USA Today. Her family established the Christina Grimmie Foundation “to create a community of empathy and support for families affected by the devastating effects of gun violence” in 2017.
Beverly McClellan, Season 1: Cancer
On the inaugural season of “The Voice” in 2011, Beverly McLellan impressed coaches and audiences with her gravelly rock star voice. Her blind audition of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” earned her a two-chair turn from Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine.
McLellan chose to be on Team Christina. She made it all the way to live finale night, and, like Grimmie, came in third place overall, according to Parade. The Tennessee native died in 2018 at age 49, less than a year after she had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer. She was survived by her wife, Monique, Deadline reported.
Janice Freeman, Season 13: Blood Clot/Lupus
The most recent tragic death in “The Voice” family was that of 33-year-old Janice Freeman. The soulful singer landed on Miley Cyrus’ team in 2017 after blowing the coach away with her version of Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive.” Her surprise elimination in round 11 stunned fans.
According Lupus.org.uk, Freeman died on March 2, 2019, “from combined complications of lupus and a bronchial infection, her representative said.” Parade described her cause of death as “a blood clot that had made its way to her heart due to a bout of pneumonia.” Parade also reported that Freeman’s coach, Miley Cyrus, “has vowed to support the husband and daughter that she left behind.”