Among singer Willie Spence’s greatest followers have been the very contestants he competed in opposition to on “American Idol” in 2021, a lot of whom are struggling to come back to grips with information of the singer’s tragic dying on October 11, 2022. Heartfelt tributes are rolling in from castmates who grew to become expensive buddies with the gospel singer throughout his journey on the show, the place he took second place and jumpstarted his promising music profession.
Season 19 ‘American Idol’ Castmates Mourn Willie Spence’s Death
During season 19 of “American Idol,” which started with auditions within the fall of 2020 and aired on ABC within the spring of 2021, Willie Spence of Douglas, Georgia, rose to fame as a humble, soft-spoken however highly effective gospel singer who blew the judges away week after week.
The singer took second place within the competitors, simply behind nation singer Chayce Beckham, who professed his love for Spence simply earlier than the ultimate outcomes of the season, saying they’d be buddies eternally.On October 12, making an attempt to course of the information of Spence’s deadly automobile accident, Beckham posted an emotional tribute to his good friend and castmate on Instagram.
“It’s onerous to seek out the phrases to say right here, aside from I liked Willie very a lot,” Beckham wrote, sharing a video of Spence performing. “He was a very good candy soul, and a heat beam of sunshine in a chilly and darkish world that wanted him a lot. When willie sang I swear it will shake an entire room. I feel Willie had a voice that God gave him particularly to unfold his message, when Willie sang gospel it may make you cry.”
Beckham continued, “Willie additionally had fun that would make you soften, an trustworthy humor you could not assist however love, and the largest coronary heart you could possibly think about all wrapped up into one human. His bigger than life power was infectious and I liked being round him. My ideas and prayers are along with his household, buddies, and followers, who I do know he liked a lot, and who he held near his coronary heart. I am unable to wait to sing with you in Paradise, the place I do know I’ll see you once more. Rest In Peace brother.”
Singer Kya Moneé, who carried out a duet of the track “Stay” with Spence throughout Hollywood Week that drew all three judges to their ft, was crushed by the information, sharing on Instagram that Spence had lately inspired her to maintain transferring ahead in her music profession.
Along with posting a number of broken-heart emojis, she wrote, “i am not robust sufficient for this. we simply simply talked about me taking a lim out on my dream and simply going for it … man i am unable to i really like u @williespenceofficial”
Alyssa Wray, with whom Spence was scheduled to carry out in New York City on October 18, shared an emotional tribute by which she mentioned she was sick to her abdomen over his dying.
Wray additionally posted a house video of Spence singing the gospel basic “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” writing within the feedback that they have been at “Idol” castmate Anilee List’s dwelling, with Deshawn Goncalves, one other castmate, taking part in the piano.
“I keep in mind all of us have been at Anilee’s home jamming and singing our hearts out,” Wray wrote. “If Willie began singing, you listened. You leaned in. That’s a present. Thank you Jesus for that reward.”
Season 19’s Grace Kinstler, who grew to become shut with Spence on the show and carried out a duet with him on the 2022 “Idol” reunion show, posted two pictures of them collectively, together with a Polaroid of the duo sitting on a sofa, and wrote a heartfelt observe to him.
She wrote, “Willie, I’m sorry I haven’t got extra eloquent phrases to share for you proper now. It would not really feel actual. Thank you on your coronary heart, and thanks for reminding all of us that there is nothing extra refreshing than being genuine and preserving it 100% always. I’ll miss your snort, the face you’d make while you did not like one thing or felt uncomfortable, and most of all, the grins you’d placed on the faces and hearts of everybody round you the second you’d enter a room. Rest simple, love you heaps, good friend.”
Casey Bishop, who reached the Top 4 of season 19, additionally shared a photograph of her with Spence and wrote a heartwrenching put up to accompany it.
“This is so heartbreaking and unreal,” she wrote. “I do not perceive why this occurred, it is simply onerous to not suppose to my self ‘why’ … Willie was so variety, mild, hilarious, beneficiant, extremely proficient and liked by so many. His power was so lovely & contagious and If you met him, you really liked him. I like you a lot Willie, so many individuals do.”
Bishop continued, “My mind would not actually know the way to sit with the truth that you are not right here on this earth anymore. I do know you might be in heaven now nevertheless it’s simply onerous to suppose that I will not see you or discuss to you on this lifetime ever once more. You’re so particular, I’ve by no means met anybody such as you and I’ll eternally be grateful that I obtained to create a ravishing bond with you. Words cannot describe the sensation this brings me. We will miss you a lot … You are considered one of a form Willie … Rest In Peace my good friend”
Extended ‘Idol’ Family of Contestants & Crew Are Also Grieving Willie Spence’s Death
The grief over Spence’s dying extends far past his castmates from season 19. They say Spence had such a candy character and musical reward that he was identified and liked by contestants from all through the show’s 20-year historical past.
One of these individuals was season 5 runner-up Katharine McPhee Foster, who mentored and carried out a duet of “The Prayer” with Spence throughout his season on “Idol.” The heartbroken singer and actress was one of many first individuals to talk out in regards to the accident on social media. Late on October 11, she posted in her Instagram Stories that she’d simply obtained phrase of Spence’s dying.
“I obtained very tragic information tonight,” she wrote. “Sweet @williespenceofficial handed away in a automobile accident. Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised. God relaxation your soul Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and to know you.”
When the “American Idol” Instagram account confirmed Spence’s dying with a tribute put up, many previous contestants commented about their grief and their interactions with Spence.
Season 16 and 17’s Alyssa Raghu wrote, “unimaginable voice, unimaginable individual. Sending love eternally.”
Season 16 winner Maddie Poppe wrote, “Absolutely heartbreaking. RIP Willie Spence”
“American Idol” casting producer and warmup host Josh Randall posted an emotional tribute, too, referencing Spence’s Instagram profile.
He wrote, “Willie’s profile mentioned ‘star within the making,’ however you shined brighter than you’ll ever know. I seemed up on the sky final evening and considered you shining down. You have been humble, compassionate, and type, and I’ll by no means perceive why, however I assume heaven wanted an angel. I’ve by no means heard a voice like yours, however past the voice was a humble child who by no means knew he was already a star. Whenever I search for on the stars I’m gonna consider you. Gone too quickly, however by no means forgotten”
Kris Pooley, who’s musical director for each the show and Katy Perry, shared a video of Spence acting on the “Idol” stage and wrote, “Thank you Willie for sharing your reward with all of us. God relaxation your soul.”