CJ Harris, a prominent contestant on the 13th season of American Idol, died Sunday night in Jasper, Ala. He was 31.
The Walker County Coroner’s Office confirmed the singer was rushed to Walker Baptist Medical Center after suffering from cardiac arrest. At this time, they believe his cause of death was possibly a heart attack.
Harris, born on Jan. 28, 1991, auditioned in Salt Lake City for his season of the singing competition show. After singing “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers, all three judges on the panel, including Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr., voted “yes,” moving him to the next round.
“CJ Harris was an incredible talent, and the news of his passing deeply saddens us,” American Idol wrote on its Instagram Story. “He will be truly missed.”
In 2014, the singer told The News84Media that his grandfather was part of what inspired him to get involved with music. “When I was a little older, my grandfather gave me a guitar,” he said. “He had one in the shed and it had three strings on it. He said I didn’t need to buy a whole new set of strings. So I would tune it in a way that when I strummed it, it sounded like it’s in a key of whatever. I find different sounds. I just love music so I really try to find a sound that I really like and just play it. I know that’s weird, but that’s what I do.”
Growing up, he was influenced by Usher and Keith Sweat, saying, “In high school, I got into country music and blues and rock music.” He also added that “Darius Rucker has really influenced me in so many ways.”
Harris also auditioned for Idol once before, in 2010, but told THR that he never made it past the first round. He had also auditioned for The X-Factor and The Voice.
After deciding he was “going to give it another chance,” the singer ended up finishing in sixth place American Idol. After the show, he went on to release his debut single, “In Love,” in 2019.
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