American Idol's Willie Spence Dies

William Spence

Willie Spence, the runner-up of the 2021 season of American Idol, has died. An unnamed family source said the singer was driving back home to Atlanta from Tennessee when he reportedly crashed into a semi parked on the side of the road. He was only 23 years-old.

Fellow alum Katharine McPhee-Foster announces, "Only 23 years old. 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." McPhee and Spence performed a duet of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli's "The Prayer" during season 19. She also left another message on a Sept. 25 post on Spence's Instagram, writing, "Sweet Willie... you deserved the stars and the moon. I'm so sorry for the world to be robbed of more precious time with you. You were an absolute Angel. I know you are up there now with the rest of the angels. God rest your soul. " 

Hours before Tuesday's crash, Spence posted an Instagram video in which he crooned Selah's "You Are My Hiding Place" from behind the wheel. The song, written by Michael Ledner, declares: "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/ Let the weak say I am strong/ In the strength of the Lord/ I will trust in You." 

According to his Instagram, Spence was slated to perform in London for the first time on Nov. 22 at Trinity Baptist Church Oasis House in Croydon. The singer released the six-song EP The Voice in 2021 and was featured on Briana Moir's 2022 single "The Living Years." 

Spence made his mark on Idol with a memorable audition performance of Rihanna's "Diamonds" that drew a standing ovation from judge Lionel Richie and a question from Katy Perry about his future. "The voice you have ... because you know it stops people in their tracks, this is the magic you have. In five years, what do you want it to look like? In your wildest dreams, if nothing was standing in your way," Perry said. 


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