If you watched Season 19 of “American Idol,” then you probably remember Willie Spence. His initial audition was so good that the judges unanimously voted to send him through to the next level without a second thought. Lionel Richie was floored by his vocals when he heard him sing “Diamonds” and called him an instant star. He saidd, “I can not tell you how excited I am to have you join us on this show.”
When Katy Perry asked Spence where he saw himself in five years, he replied that all he wanted was to win a Grammy. Luke Bryan said, “That Grammy is attainable. No doubt in my mind.”
Spence placed second during season 19 of the singing competition in 2021, but this was hardly the end of his musical pursuits. In 2022, he mentioned that he was working on an EP. In early 2022, he teased that he was working on an EP. He also told Ryan Seacrest that in 2023, he would have the opportunity to sing for Queen Elizabeth II. He said traveling overseas is something he’s very excited about.
It’s safe to say that, unfortunately, singing for the Queen will never happen since she passed away in September this year. Unfortunately, winning a Grammy won’t happen either.
On Tuesday, October 11, 2022, Spence died in a car accident. His family reported that his car had gotten a flat tire earlier that day, but he got it fixed. He was driving from Tennessee to Atlanta later when he crashed into a tractor trailer on the side of the road and passed away. He was only 23 years old.
Spence’s final social media post, posted hours before the crash that took his life, was a video of him singing “Lord you are my hiding place” from inside his car.
Katherine McPhee, who was the runner-up during season 5 of “American Idol” shared her condolences on social media after hearing about his death. She wrote on Instagram, “I received very tragic news tonight. Sweet @williespenceofficial passed away in a car accident. 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.”
“American Idol” wrote on Twitter “We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence.”
We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence. He was a true talent who lit up every room he entered and will be deeply missed. We send our condolences to his loved ones. pic.twitter.com/QWrWqf7qQN
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) October 12, 2022
The video below captures the electrifying moment when Spence first caught the judges’ attention during his “American Idol” audition.