Katy Perry and Luke Bryan both honored Willie Spence, after the singer tragically died in a car accident on Tuesday, October 11. The American Idol Judge took to social media to mourn the season 19 runner-up, following his sudden, unexpected passing at 23. The “California Gurls” pop star commented on the reality competition’s tribute to Willie on Instagram with a poignant message. “I love you Willie… purest soul. Sing with the angels my dear,” she wrote.
The country singer shared the show’s tribute to the runner-up. “Willie really lit up every room he walked into,” he began his tribute. Luke continued, admiring how moving Willie’s voice was to all who could hear him and see his talent. “He could change the mood immediately when he started singing. He will be truly missed,” he wrote. Besides the judges, Ryan Seacrest also mourned the singer’s passing in an Instagram story. He shared the same video tribute and wrote a heartfelt message. “Everyone on and off the set loved him,” he wrote. “You will be deeply missed.”
In addition, American Idol judge, Lionel Richie, 73, also took to Instagram on Oct. 12 to share a tribute to Willie. He captioned the video of the 23-year-old singing: “Your light will always shine in this world. We were so blessed to get a chance to see you shine. My thoughts and prayers are with Willie’s family. Rest well my friend.”
Willie died in a car accident on Tuesday. His passing was first reported by the local news outlet Douglas now. “DouglasNow has learned that Douglas native and American Idol Season 19 runner-up Willie Spence, 23, has passed away from 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 a ray of light to millions around the world. He will be missed,” the outlet wrote in a Facebook post.
Willie was the runner-up in season 19 of Idolcomes in second place to winner Chayce Beckham. During his time on the show, Willie wowed audiences with impressive renditions of hits such as “Set Fire To The Rain” by Adele and “Diamonds” by Rihanna as well as many more songs. One of the singer’s most notable performances was his duet with Katharine McPhee, where they sang That of Celine Dion “The prayer.”
After Willie’s passing was first reported, Katharine took to her Instagram to share a moving tribute to him. She reposted one of the clips of them speaking on the show and also wrote a moving tribute to the young singer. “I received very tragic news this evening. Sweet Willie Spence died in a car accident. Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised,” she wrote. “God rest your soul Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and know you.”
Katharine also shared an Instagram clip of Willie singing the Christian song “You Are My Hiding Place” through Sela to her story. The video was posted just hours before his death, and it showed his powerful and moving voice. Many fans posted the clip after the news of his death.
Following his second place victory on idol, Willie spoke Hollywood Life about how excited he was for the next steps in his career, and he talked about how the show inspired him to work even harder. “From tomorrow I’m going to push harder and still make music,” he said. “Before American IdolI didn’t believe in myself as much as I should have as an artist, and [the show] definitely helped me with confidence and helped me believe in myself more. I feel like this is all I need for my career to take off. I just need to believe in myself a little more.”