Willie Spence was beloved by fans, as well as those who knew him personally. Those who competed alongside Willie on season 19 of American Idol are devastated by the loss of the powerful singer, who reportedly died in a car accident on Oct. 11. After news of Willie’s death broke, tributes from fellow Idol contestants began pouring in on social media, as those who knew Willie mourned his tragic loss.
“It’s hard to find the words to say here, other than I loved Willie very much,” wrote Chayce Beckham, winner of Season 19, on Instagram following the news of Willie’s death. “He was a good sweet soul, and a warm beam of light in a cold and dark world that needed him so much. When willie sang I swear it would shake a whole room. I think Willie had a voice that God gave him specifically to spread his message, when Willie sang gospel it could make you cry. Willie also had a laugh that could make you melt, an honest humor you couldn’t help but love, and the biggest heart you could imagine all wrapped up into one human.”
“His larger-than-life energy was infectious and I loved being around him,” continued Chayce. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and fans, who I know he loved so much, and who he held close to his heart. I can’t wait to sing with you in Paradise, where I know I’ll see you again. Rest In Peace brother.”
Casey Bishop, who came in fourth on Willie’s season of Idol, was amongst the first to post on Instagram about Willie’s tragic passing. “I can’t even fathom this right now,” she wrote. “Such a beautiful bright soul, his energy was so contagious. Rest in peace, Willie, you are loved by so many.” Hunter Metts, who was another top 10 finalist, wrote on his own IG story, “I’m in disbelief. One of the most beautiful souls I’ve ever met. Life is so precious. Rest in peace my brother.”
Cassandra Coleman was devastated by Willie’s passing, as well. “I can’t even fathom this right now,” she wrote on Instagram. “My heart is absolutely crushed. “There are NO words. Please pray for Willie’s family and their grieving hearts. I can’t even imagine the pain they must be feeling. Such an incredible, mind-blowing talent unfairly taken away from this world. Life is so fragile.”
“Fly high, my boy,” wrote Jason Warrior while sharing a photo of Willie to his Instagram Story. “Continue to shine bright like a diamond.” Grace Kinstler took to Instagram stories on October 12 to share a happy memory with the singer — they both threw peace signs and sported huge smiles in the photo. “Rest in Peace, Willie,” she captioned the story, alongside a heart emoji. “Thank you so much for being my friend. Love you so much.”
“Your joy was unmatched,” wrote Madison Watkins, who shared videos of her with Willie. “I’m speechless and completely heartbroken but know you are praising Jesus right now.” Franklin Boone wrote that he was “very reluctant to go back on Idol in 2021.. to make things worse, I got sick on filming day and totally botched my performance – but the ONLY reason I didn’t regret it overall was because of meeting and spending time with people like Willie.”
“Sitting around in between call-times cutting up and singing gospel music with Willie and the rest of the church folk gang was the highlight of that experience for me,” added Boone on Instagram. “A few of us sat by the pool on my last night there, laughing and cutting up, talking about life, about God, about things we wrestled with.. I was honestly grateful to be welcomed to the table, and felt like I was sitting with a legend. I’m sure I didn’t make much of an impact on him, but he left an impression on me for sure, & I shared that with him on many occasions.”
“To know you was to love you,” wrote Alyssa Wray. “He was a soul that people were drawn to. He had a voice that was hand-made and hand-picked by God himself and bestowed on him to touch lives. Anointed. Willie touched hearts. With his voice. With his smile. I can hear him laugh right now.”
“I’m so heartbroken. I’m sick to my stomach,” she continued. “I’m shocked. Still not sure my mind is fully processing this. I love you brother. The memories we have together are some of the best memories I have in this life, and I will cherish them forever. I will hold you in my heart forever.
Willie died after sustaining injuries in a car crash in Tennessee. He has posted an Instagram video of himself singing in the front seat of his car just hours before news of his death was publicized. Willie wowed fans with his voice from his first Idol audition during season 19, and he went on to become the runner-up of the season. Country singer Chayce Beckham received more votes than Willie during the finale and was declared the winner.
Willie had so much to look forward to before his death, including an upcoming show in London on Nov. 12. He excitedly confirmed the show at the end of September after teasing an exciting announcement in the days leading up to the big reveal. Although Willie didn’t shoot to superstardom after his time on Idol, he continued posting videos of his music for fans, and had nearly 500,000 followers on Instagram at the time of his death. Willie was just 23 years old.
During his time on American Idol, Willie performed songs like “Diamonds”, “All Of Me” and more. He also got the chance to sing with fellow Idol star, Katharine McPhee, on the show. Katharine mourned Willie on her Instagram Story after learning of his death, as well. “I received very tragic news tonight,” she wrote, along with a video of them together on the show. “Sweet Willie Pence passed away in a car accident. Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is promised. God rest your soul Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and to know you.” She also included several broken heart emojis along with her message for the late singer.
Although Willie’s death happened in Tennessee, the news was first confirmed by his hometown newspaper in Douglas County, Georgia. The paper shared the news on Facebook, writing, “DouglasNow has learned that Douglas native and American Idol season 19 runner- up Willie Spence, 23, has passed away due to injuries sustained in a car accident in Tennessee. We have no further details at this time. We extend our condolences to Willie’s family, friends and fans. He was an extraordinary talent and ray of light to millions across the world. He will be missed.”Click to Subscribe to Get Our Free HollywoodLife Daily Newsletter to get the hottest celeb news.