Willie Spence, the runner-up on American Idol, tragically died in a car accident at the age of 23. Willie Spence, the runner-up in the 19th season of the American Idol show, died as a result of a car accident, as confirmed in a message on social networks. The singer was also known for a viral video in which he performed a rendition of Rihanna’s hit “Diamonds”. He was 23 years old.
According to a report citing the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Spence died Tuesday in a car crash in Tennessee. The singer was driving an SUV when he flew off the road and crashed into a car that stopped on the side of the road, according to the accident report.
“We are devastated by the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence,” reads the caption to the video of Spence’s audition posted on the show’s official Instagram account. “He was a real talent who lit up every room he entered, and he will be sorely missed. We express our condolences to his loved ones.”
A native of West Palm Beach, Florida, Spence moved with his family to Georgia as a child, where his talent for singing was discovered in high school. A video of him singing “Diamonds” in 2017 in a classroom-like room has gone viral, gaining more than 15 million views on YouTube.
Spence decided to perform this song again for his audition for “American Idol” in 2021. His voice impressed judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Richie called his performance “incredible.”
“When you think about your future and think about the voice that you have — because you know it stops people in their tracks, it’s magic that you have — what do you want it to look like in five years?” Katy Perry asked Spence after his performance.
“I just want my voice to reach the whole world and just share my gift,” Spence replied. “I hope one day we will win a Grammy. That’s how I see myself in five years.”