The Walker County Coroner’s office confirmed to People on Thursday that American Idol contestant CJ Harris passed away on 15 January 2023 from a heart attack at the age of 31.
The singer passed away on Sunday at the Walker Baptist Medical Center in his hometown of Jasper, Alabama. He placed sixth on the reality show in 2014.
According to a TMZ report from Monday, the musician, whose real name is Curtis “CJ” Harris, had been taken by ambulance to the emergency hospital but passed away soon after.
A family member expressed their shock at his passing in a statement to the website.
CJ Harris Journey On “American Idol”
Harris first attracted widespread recognition in 2014 when he appeared in an American Idol audition for judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and up-and-comer Harry Connick Jr. For the judges, he sang a rendition of “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers Band.
He received his golden ticket to become one of the three Wild Card contenders who would join the season’s 13 finalists, and he proceeded from Hollywood week to the semifinals after that.
Harris frequently played his trusty guitar during the live performances, belting out country-soul renditions of songs like “Radio” by Darius Rucker, “Can’t You See” by Toy Caldwell of The Marshall Tucker Band, “Invisible” by Hunter Hayes, “If It Hadn’t Been For Love” by The SteelDrivers, and others.
After eventual winner Caleb Johnson, runner-up Jena Irene, and fellow finalists Alex Preston, Sam Woolf, and Jessica Meuse, he ultimately came in sixth.
Stars Posted Photo With Tribute Of CJ Harris
The singer was honored in a heartfelt tribute posted on the “American Idol” Instagram account.
“CJ Harris had incredible talent, and the news of his passing deeply saddens us, he will be missed.’’
A close friend and another “American Idol” contestant named Jessica Meuse paid tribute to the musician on Instagram.
“I’ll miss your random phone calls asking for life advice and talking about the music world… There are a lot of things I realize I will never understand — you leaving us so soon is one of those things.”
Harris went on to establish a reputation for himself after “American Idol.” At the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2014, he performed on stage alongside Darius Rucker, a former member of The Blowfish and the soft rock band Hootie. In 2019, he also made his solo debut with the song “In Love.” He posted on Facebook on January 1st, 2023, that he was writing a new song.