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Willie Spence Death: ‘American Idol’ Alum Died in a Car Crash

The second runner-up on American Idol season 19, Willie Spence, who performed soaring renditions of Rihanna’s “Diamond”, Carmen Twillie’s “The Circle of Life” and Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind,” fatally died Tuesday following a car accident in Nashville, Tenn. 

American Idol’ Star Willie Spence Dies in Tragic Accident

The preliminary report by the Marion County Medical Examiner and the Tennessee Highway Patrol stated Willie Spence’s Jeep Cherokee veered off the road at 4 pm. Local time and crashed into a semi-truck that was parked on the roadside. The 23-year-old was apparently driving home to Atlanta. 

Although Willie Spence was wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision, he was dead on the spot. His cause of death has been cited as “multisystem trauma” due to the car crash. However, Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Indictment is underway. 

American Idol' Star Willie Spence Dies in Tragic Accident

The shocking news was first reported by DouglasNow, a local outlet as well as his family. According to the source, Willie Spence had a flat tire fixed earlier on Tuesday. 

Right before the crash, Willie Spence, 23, had posted a clip on social media of himself singing and vibrating in the car. Seemingly the singer was in the midst of promoting a show which was slated on November 12 at the Trinity Baptist Church in London. 

Lionel Ritchie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry were all wowed when the Douglas native sang “Diamonds” for his audition, back in 2021. 

“I do this for me, not only for myself but for my family. They’ve always been supportive, they’ve been there from the very beginning,” he told the judges during the audition. At the time, the incredible singer was praised as an “undeniable star” as well as “unbelievable” by Richie, while Bryan termed him a “special human being.”

As for Perry, she told Willie Spence that his voice draws people into the tracks and she also asked him what kind of life he wanted to live in the next five years. 

“When you think about your future, and you know the voice you have, because you know it stops people in your tracks, this is the magic you have. In five years what would you want it to look like, in your wildest dreams, if nothing was standing in your way?” 

Willie Spence replied, “I just want my voice to reach the whole world, and share my gift.”

He added, “Hopefully, winning a Grammy one day, that’s where I see myself… It’s gonna take a lot of work, but I think I can do it.”

Later in the season, Spense performed Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion’s “The Prayer” along with Idol alum Katherine McPhee. 

Again, it was highly praised with Bryan telling Willie Spence, “You do literacy no wrong in my eyes” and Richie calling him “Willie Pavarotti.”

“Part of being a star is forcing people to fall in love with you, and I’m already in love with you,” Richie said. “I am in love with the way you go about singing and also the place that it comes from. It is amazing.”

Bryan joined and said, “In our business, you don’t want to be a singer, you want to be a stylist.”

“It’s just mesmerizing to watch you. Every time you come with another character, with another song I say, you can’t sing that song, you not only make that song, but you also make it your own song and that’s the quality of a true superstar.”

He made it all the way to the finale, delivering his masterpiece, before placing second to Chayce Beckham. 

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“We are equally devastated by the passing of our American Idol family member. Willie Spence was a true talent who literally lit up every room he entered and he will be greatly missed,” the American Idol Beckham tweeted. 

Following his death, McPhee paid tribute to the singer on Instagram, sharing a video from their Idol performance. 

“I received tragic news tonight. Only 23-year-old, sweet @williespenceofficilal passed away in a car accident. Nothing is ever promised and the world is so unfair.”

It was a huge pleasure to work with you,” she wrote. 

On one of his pinned posts, McPhee commented, “Dear Willie… you deserved the stars and the moon… You were an angel and I know you’re up there with the other angels.”

Mickey Guyton, the Country star also paid a respectful tribute to the fantabulous singer, commenting on Instagram, “You were and will always be a gift to us. We love you.”

Since the death news broke, Willie Spence’s recent post on Instagram has turned into a memorial page and his fans and followers are pouring in love and expressing their disbelief in losing such a legendary singer. 

In the past few years, Willie Spence released an EP, The Voice, and a collection of singles. One of his hits, “The Living Years,” with singer Briana Moir was released in August. 

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