BY Joe Saunders, The Western JournalJanuary 16, 2023
1 year ago

Former 'American Idol' Contestant Dies Suddenly from Apparent Heart Attack at 31

A former "American Idol" contestant who went on to tour with other former contestants and perform at The Grand Ole Opry died Sunday.

CJ Harris was 31, and died of "an apparent heart attack," according to TMZ.

He was in his hometown of Jasper, Alabama, TMZ reported.

"A family member tells me CJ suffered an apparent heart attack in Jasper, Alabama ... he was taken to a local hospital by ambulance, but didn't make it," TMZ senior news producer Brendon Geoffrion wrote in a Twitter post.

Harris was a contestant on the show's Season 13 in 2014. He first made his mark during the auditions in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he performed "Soulshine" by the Allman Brothers Band, according to TMZ.

He reached the No. 6 spot among "Idol" contestants.

On Monday, fellow contestant Jessica Meuse mourned the news.

"My heart is heavy to hear of the passing of fellow @americanidol and friend @cjharrismusic," Meuse, who finished at No 4, wrote in an Instagram post.

"I’m completely shocked. Your talent and smile will be missed, and the world is definitely a darker and eerily quieter place without you in it ...  I’m grateful that our paths crossed and that I can say you were (and always will be) a part of mine. There are a lot of things I realize I will never understand -- you leaving us so soon is one of those things. Rest easy, friend. See you on the other side."

Naturally, the death of a performer so young lit up social media.

In October, another former "American Idol" contestant, Willie Spence, died in a car accident in Tennessee.

During his "Idol" competition, Harris performed a version of "Radio" by Darius Rucker, according to the New York Daily News.

He went on to perform with Rucker at Nashville's Grand Ole Opry, according to TMZ. Rucker was the lead singer for the pop band Hootie and the Blowfish before turning to country music.

Harris also toured with other Season 13 "Idol" contestants, according to TMZ.

Harris' audition on the show included praise from country star Keith Urban, who described Harris' approach to music in words that would likely be understood and taken to heart by every young performer -- no matter the genre.

“You sing because you have to sing, not ’cause you want to sing," Urban said, according to TMZ.

“And I mean that in the deepest way. And that’s why it’s so believable and real.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Joe Saunders, The Western Journal

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