According to Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Spence succumbed to injuries he sustained in a car accident in Tennessee on Tuesday.
In his audition for American Idol, he blew the judges away and received a standing ovation from Lionel Richie after singing “Diamonds.”
After wowing the judges with his performance, Spence said that he hoped that his voice would “reach the world” and, if he was lucky, “[win] a Grammy one day.” In his memorable run as a contestant on the show, Spence gave soulful renditions of “The Prayer,” John Legend’s “All of Me,” Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” Elton John’s “Circle of Life” and Coldplay’s “Yellow.”
Following his second-place finish, he went on to release an EP called The Voice and several singles.
“We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence,” the post read. "He was a true talent who lit up every room he entered and will be deeply missed. We send our condolences to his loved ones.”
Katharine McPhee-Foster, another former American Idol contestant, honored Spence on her Instagram story after receiving the news of his passing.
“Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised,” she wrote. “God rest your soul Willie.
She left another message on one of Spence’s previous Instagram posts writing, “Sweet Willie… you deserved the stars and the moon. I’m so sorry for the world to be robbed of more precious time with you. You were an absolute Angel. I know you are up there now with the rest of the angels. God rest your soul. ”
We at EBONY extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Willie Spence.