Former American Idol contestant C.J. Harris dies at 31
Musician C.J. Harris, who made it into the top six on American Idol season 13, has died at the age of 31. The Walker County Coroner's office confirmed to People that Harris died on Sunday, Jan. 15, in Jasper, Ala. after suffering a medical emergency.
"C.J. Harris was an incredible talent, and the news of his passing deeply saddens us. He will be truly missed," a spokesperson for American Idol tells EW.
Born in Jasper in 1991, Harris was inspired to take up music by his grandfather, who gave him a guitar when he was a child. "He had one in the shed and it had three strings on it," Harris told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014. "He said I didn't need to buy a whole new set of strings."
The singer first auditioned for American Idol in 2010, and also tried out unsuccessfully for Fox's The X-Factor and NBC's The Voice. Undaunted, Harris returned to audition for Idol again in 2014, where he impressed the judges with his rendition of The Allman Brothers' "Soul Shine."
After placing sixth on American Idol, Harris performed with other contestants on the show's live tour, and he played with one of his musical influences, Darius Rucker, at the Grand Ole Opry in 2014. His debut single, "In Love," was released in 2019.
On January 1, 2023, Harris posted a message to fans on his official Facebook page. "Happy New Years! New music coming soon!"
Fellow American Idol season 13 contestant Jessica Meuse posted a tribute to Harris on her Instagram page. "Your talent and smile will be missed," she wrote. " I'm grateful that our paths crossed and that I can say you were (and always will be) a part of mine."
TMZ was the first to report the news of Harris' death.