‘American Idol’ runner-up Willie Spence dead at 23

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Written By Sristi Dumre

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A family member verified to TMZ that singer Willie Spence, who placed second on Season 19 of American Idol in 2021, has passed away. He was 23.

First to disclose Spence’s passing, local Georgia news source Douglas Now posted on Facebook on Tuesday that Spence had died as a result of injuries incurred in a Tennessee vehicle accident. Soon after the news surfaced, tributes to the artist started to circulate on social media. One of these was posted by Katharine McPhee, the Idol Season 5 runner-up with whom Spence duetted during Season 19.

Willie Spence

“Tonight, I learned terribly bad news. In a posting on Instagram, McPhee said: “Sweet @williespenceofficial died in a car accident. 23 years old just. Nothing is ever guaranteed, and life is so unfair. Willie, may God rest your soul. It was a pleasure getting to know you and singing with you.

Spence, a native of Georgia, won over Idol fans with his soulful, gospel-infused performances throughout Season 19. His Top 4 cover of John Legend and Common’s “Glory,” which you can watch again here, stands out in particular. Grace Kinstler and Chayce Beckham joined Spence in making it to the finals; Beckham went on to win that year’s competition.

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