C.J. Harris, the 31-year-old singer who stunned the country with his enchantingly soulful voice when he ended up sixth on American Idol’s 13th season, passed away on January 16, 2023.
Before trying his luck on the show, he was part of The X-Factor and The Voice, but only had his breakthrough in 2014.
During the audition, Harris stunned the judges, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick Jr, with his powerful performance of the Allman Brothers Band’s song Soulshine. He dedicated his touching performance to his late father.
“You sing because you have to sing, not because you want to sing,” Keith Urban said to Harris. “And I mean that in the deepest way. … That’s why it’s so believable and real.”
As the show progressed, Harris attracted many fans. His performances of Can’t You See by the Marshall Tucker Band and If It Hadn’t Been for Love by the SteelDrivers made him a fan favorite.
Once the show was over and he made a name for himself, Harris went on the show’s live tour and later on he had a chance to perform with one of his biggest idols, former Hootie & the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker. The two performed at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2014.
Harris released his debut single, In Love, in 2019 and on New Year’s Day of this year he shared with his fans that new music was coming soon.
Unfortunately, a few days ago, he went into cardiac arrest at his hometown, Jasper, Alabama, and was rushed to the hospital, but nothing could be done. He was just 31.
The news of Harris’ passing was announced to the media by Deputy Walker County Coroner Danielle Calloway.
American Idol shared their condolences and fond memories of Harris on Twitter.
“C.J. Harris was an incredible talent, and the news of his passing deeply saddens us,” they wrote. “He will be truly missed.”
Harris’ childhood wasn’t an easy one. He once shared with The Hollywood Reporter that his mother was his first musical influence. “I was six years old and my mom was in prison,” the singer recalled in the interview. “She would sing to me over the phone and tears would just flow out of my eyes.”
Harris learned how to play the guitar all by himself after his grandfather gave him a broken one when he was still very young.
“He had one in the shed and it had three strings on it,” Harris revealed in the interview. “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.”
Harris worked hard to get to where he was, but sadly, his life ended tragically. May he rest in peace.
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