‘American Idol’ Sensation Dead at 31

Back in 2014, CJ Harris auditioned for the singing competition show “American Idol.” He impressed the judges with his rendition of the Allman Brothers Band’s song “Soulshine,” earning him a spot on season 13 of the show. While Harris didn’t win the competition, he did do quite well, making it into the top 6 contestants and impressing America with his vocal ability on songs including “American Woman,” “Free Fallin'” and “Too Close.”

The competition was cut short for Harris, and unfortunately, so was his life. TMZ reports that Harris was rushed to the hospital last night, Sunday January 16, 2023, after suffering from a heart attack. He did not survive. He was only 31 years old. He died at Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper, Alabama.

Now, tributes are pouring in for Harris. A fellow competitor on season 13 of “American Idol,” Jessica Meuse, posted a picture of herself with Harris and captioned the photo, “Your talent and smile will be missed, and the world is definitely a darker and eerily quieter place without you in it.” She added, “There are a lot of things I realize I will never understand — you leaving us so soon is one of those things.”


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A post shared by Jessica Meuse (@jessmeuse)

The winner of season 13, Caleb Johnson, also posted a tribute to Harris. Alongside a series of photos, Johnson wrote, “This hurts so much. CJ was my roommate on @americanidol during Hollywood week and then lived right next door to me and @realalexpreston during the live shows. We instantly became friends.” 


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A post shared by Caleb Johnson (@calebjohnson)

After “Idol,” Harris and Meuse, who are both from Alabama, went on tour with “American Idol.” During that time, Harris told AL, “Being on the road can be very different. My son, back home, is 2 years old and I get very homesick. I miss my son and my family. I’m not used to the big city out there; I’m just a small, little country boy from Alabama.” 

Harris also explained how he got his start in music. He said, “I grew up in the church, playing gospel music and singing in the choir.” He added, “Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to see those lights on stage. Every time I get into my bed right after a show, I still can’t believe I’ve been on stage.”

Harris didn’t stop performing after the “Idol” tour. He went on to perform with Darius Rucker at the Grand Ole Opry. In 2019, he also released a single titled “In Love.” In addition, he shared videos of himself performing his music on multiple social media platforms.

Rest in peace.