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Singer Leah LaBelle and her husband, former NBA player Rasual Butler, were killed in a car crash early Wednesday morning.
LaBelle, 31, was a contestant on the third season of American Idol when she was just 17 and eventually placed 12th in the competition in 2004. Following reports of her death, the “Idol Family” — including that season’s winner, Fantasia Barrino — paid tribute on social media.
“This just doesn’t seem right even saying right now but Rest In Peace Baby Girl 😢💔 @leahlabelle I will never forget you,” penned Barrino on Instagram. “Idol Family Forever. RIP Angel 😇 I’m sitting here STUCK LIKE NOOOOOOO WAYYYYYYY!!!”
In honor of LaBelle’s contributions to Idol, look back on some of her best moments below.
“I Believe In You And Me” by Whitney Houston
In her audition, LaBelle explained that her parents escaped from communist Bulgaria by harnessing the power of music: They were able to get visas out of the country because they were traveling musicians. Though nervous, her take on Whitney Huston’s “I Believe In You And Me” impressed the judges and sent her to the next round. Just look at the way Paula Abdul looks at her!
“Young Hearts Run Free” by Candi Staton
In Hollywood, LaBelle got to harmonize in a girl-group trio while singing disco anthem “Young Hearts Run Free.” The number ends with her in the center of the group in a powerful pose.
“I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston
Though Cowell’s classic nitpicking nearly prevented LaBelle from heading to the live shows, she was able to compete and perform another Houston classic. Even Cowell had to admit her performance was “without question, the best we’ve seen tonight.”
“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
During a wild card performance, LaBelle was in her element belting Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” earning high praise from Abdul, who complimented her fun choreography.
“You Keep Me Hanging On” by The Supremes
Despite this being her final performance — which she agreed was not her best — LaBelle proved once again how well her voice was suited for soulful classics.