C.J. Harris, who finished sixth on the 13th season of American Idol in 2014, has died. He was 31. According to a member of his family, CJ died after a heart attack on Sunday night in Jasper, Alabama.
He was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, but he did not survive. The news first came out on TMZ. Jessica Meuse, who was in the same Idol season 13 competition as Harris, wrote a tribute to the star on Instagram.
“Your talent and smile will be missed, and the world is definitely a darker and eerily quieter place without you in it,” she wrote. “I’ll miss your random phone calls asking for life advice and talking about the music world… There are a lot of things I realise I will never understand — you leaving us so soon is one of those things.”
The musician first tried out for American Idol on a bus tour of Tuscaloosa. Then, in Salt Lake City, he sang for judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr.
He got three votes for Hollywood with his version of “Soulshine” by the Allman Brothers, which he dedicated to his father. Later, he gave memorable performances of “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band and “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” by the SteelDrivers.
American Idol contestant C.J
Harris #diedsuddenly at the age of 31.
The singer suffered an ‘apparent heart attack’ in his hometown in Alabama.💉 pic.twitter.com/hiTqBIhhZa
— DiedSuddenly (@DiedSuddenly_) January 16, 2023
Harris sang with Darius Rucker at the Grand Ole Opry after his time on the show, and in 2019, he put out the single “In Love.” He often posted videos of himself singing and playing guitar on TikTok and Instagram.
In October, he wrote on Facebook that he was making new music in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. On January 1, the musician also said that “new music is coming soon.”
Harris, who was a father of two, told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014 that he first tried out for Idol in 2010 but didn’t make it past the first round. He also tried out for The X-Factor and The Voice but didn’t make it past the first round of each show.
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“I was always on the internet, trying to find a break, looking for which producers I could send my stuff to. I searched for American Idol and I saw they were doing the bus tour and they were going to be 30 minutes down the road from me,” he recalled.
“I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to give it another chance. I’ve gotten so much better, my voice has matured and my playing has gotten so much better.”
“American Idol” Alum C.J. Harris, DEAD AT 31…
Apparent “HEART ATTACK”…
“CPR efforts were unsuccessful”…
Made his last Instagram post on Jan. 13th…
– Hollywood Life, People pic.twitter.com/uxqwE5HzWI
— Dr. James E. Olsson (@DrJamesOlsson) January 16, 2023
The musician also said that his love of music started when he was a child and his mother sang to him over the phone while she was in prison. “Tears would just flow out of my eyes,” he said.
“When I was a little older, my granddad gave me a guitar. 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.”
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