Willie Spence, 'American Idol' Season 19 runner-up, dead at 23

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CNN  — 

Willie Spence, a vocalist who arsenic a teen went viral with his rendition of Rihanna’s deed “Diamonds” and was the runner up connected Season 19 connected “American Idol, has died the amusement confirmed successful a societal media posting connected Wednesday.

He was 23 years old.

“We are devastated astir the passing of our beloved American Idol household member, Willie Spence,” read the caption connected a video of Spence’s “Idol” audition, posted connected the show’s verified Instagram account. “He was a existent endowment who lit up each country helium entered and volition beryllium profoundly missed. We nonstop our condolences to his loved ones.”

The vocalist was killed successful a car mishap successful Tennessee connected Tuesday, according to CNN affiliate WSB, citing the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

Spence was driving an SUV erstwhile helium went disconnected the roadworthy and crashed into a car that was stopped connected the shoulder, according to the mishap report.

TMZ besides reported that a household subordinate confirmed to them that Spence died aft a crash.

CNN has reached retired to representatives for Spence.

The West Palm Beach, Florida autochthonal relocated with his household to Georgia arsenic a child. It was portion singing successful his section precocious schoolhouse that Spence was archetypal discovered.

A video of him singing “Diamonds” successful what appeared to beryllium a schoolroom successful 2017 went viral and has since racked up much than 15 cardinal views connected YouTube.

The show landed him an quality connected Steve Harvey’s daytime speech show. Spence besides chose to perform the opus for his audition for “American Idol” successful 2021.

He blew judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan distant with Richie declaring Spence “unbelievable” and Bryan saying helium did not privation the singer’s show to end.

“When you deliberation astir your future, and you deliberation astir the dependable you person origin you cognize it stops radical successful their tracks, this is the magic you have, successful 5 years what bash you privation it to look like?” Perry asked Spence. “In your wildest dreams, if thing was lasting successful your way?”

“I conscionable privation my dependable to scope the satellite and conscionable stock my gift,” Spence replied. “Hopefully winning a Grammy 1 day. That’s wherever I spot myself successful 5 years.”

“American Idol” 5th play runner up Katharine McPhee Foster took to her Instagram stories to station a tribute to Spence, who she met connected “Idol” during his season.

“I received precise tragic quality tonight. Sweet @williespenceofficial passed distant successful a car accident,” she wrote connected her Instastory on with a video of her and Spence from the show. “Only 23 years old. Life is truthful unfair and thing is ever promised. God remainder your psyche Willie. It was a pleasance to sing with you and to cognize you.”

She besides shared his last Instagram posting, a video of himself successful a car singing the Christian tune “You Are My Hiding Place.”