Joining the list of younger people who have died of heart attacks and other maladies typically associated with the elderly recently was 2014 American Idol contestant CJ Harris, who passed away in Alabama after being taken to the hospital by an ambulance, as TMZ reported, saying:
CJ Harris, the former “American Idol” contestant who made it to the top 6 in 2014, has died.
A family member tells us CJ suffered an apparent heart attack Sunday night in Jasper, Alabama … he was taken to a local hospital by ambulance, but didn’t make it.
The Daily Mail, commenting on Harris’ time on American Idol and what made him notable on that season, said:
The singer performed on the reality TV show in 2014, making it to the top six. He subsequently struck up a friendship with Darius Rucker who became his mentor.
[…]His road to Idol was bumpy.
Harris first auditioned for The X-Factor and The Voice, but was not successful. That is when he turned his attention to American Idol where he made a big impression during the 13th season which took place in 2014.
Here’s Harris’ American Idol audition:
It was with that rendition of “Soulshine” that CJ impressed the American Idol judges. Keith Urban, after hearing it, told CJ “You sing ’cause you have to sing, not ’cause you want to sing. And, I mean that in the deepest way. And, that’s why it’s so believable and real.”
What was shocking to many about the audition is that he claimed to have done it on a whim. Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter after his rise to fame, Harris said “I saw they were doing the bus tour and they were going to be 30 minutes down the road from me. I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to give it another chance. I’ve gotten so much better, my voice has matured and my playing has gotten so much better. I’m 23, before you know it I’ll be 33 and I want to give it another chance.‘”
And that chance worked out, as he made it through much of the season and his friendship with star Darius Rucker continued after the season, as TMZ reported that “After “Idol,” CJ performed with Darius Rucker at The Grand Ole Opry, someone he’s said was a massive influence on his style. He even played for audiences in the competition show’s season 13 tour.”
The Daily Mail, reporting on how he got into music, noted that “At age eight, he started learning how to play the guitar on a broken one that his grandfather gave him. It had only three strings but was enough to get him hooked on music. He also sang in the church choir and learned how to play the piano.”
Harris’ Facebook account has yet to be updated to reflect his passing. The last post on it is from January 1st, 2023 when Harris posted a picture of himself and said “Happy New Years! New music coming soon!”
One friend of Harris’ did comment on that post to mourn his passing, saying “I’m in shock. Doesn’t even seem real. Thank you for all the amazing late night Tik Tok lives when we’d all get together and sing! And I’ll never ever forget all the kind encouraging words you’d give me on my singing.and those DMS always checking up seeing how I was doing. Or the times when you was at my uncle’s house singing and playing guitar. Once you started you got down with it. Your heart and soul for music was a force to reckon with. I just can’t seem to shake this. 🥺 You’re the best ❤️ Rip in heaven Cj .gone to soon🥺”
Featured Image credit: CJ Harris Facebook account
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