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'American Idol' Alum C.J. Harris Dead at 31

C.J. Harris
Finalist C.J. Harris attends FOX's "American Idol XIII" finalists party at Fig & Olive Melrose Place on Feb. 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 January 2023 01:34 PM EST

"American Idol" alum C.J. Harris, who made it into the top six of the show's 13th season, has died at age 31.

The Walker County (Alabama) Coroner's office confirmed to People magazine that Harris died on Sunday, Jan. 15, in Jasper, Alabama after suffering a medical emergency.

Born in Jasper in 1991, Harris took up music at a young age, when his grandfather gave him a guitar.

"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. So I would tune it in a way that when I strummed it, it sounded like it's in a key of whatever. I find different sounds. I just love music so I really try to find a sound that I really like and just play it. I know that's weird, but that's what I do.”

Harris first auditioned for "American Idol" in 2010, and also tried out for "The X-Factor" and "The Voice." His initial attempts were unsuccessful, but undaunted, he returned to audition for "American Idol" again in 2014.

"I was always on the internet, trying to find a break, looking for which producers I could send my stuff to," Harris recalled to The Hollywood Reporter at the time. "I searched for 'American Idol' and 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.' "

Harris ended up winning the judges over with his rendition of The Allman Brothers' "Soul Shine." He went on to place sixth and performed with other contestants on the show's live tour.

Harris later performed with Darius Rucker at the Grand Ole Opry, and in 2019 he released his single, "In Love." At the start of the year, Harris shared that he had new music on the way.

Upon learning of his death, fellow "American Idol" contestant Jessica Meuse, who competed on season 13 alongside Harris, remembered him in a heartfelt Instagram tribute.

"Your talent and smile will be missed, and the world is definitely a darker and eerily quieter place without you in it," she wrote. "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."

Zoe Papadakis

Zoe Papadakis is a Newsmax writer based in South Africa with two decades of experience specializing in media and entertainment. She has been in the news industry as a reporter, writer and editor for newspapers, magazine and websites.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

"American Idol" alum C.J. Harris, who made it into the top six of the show's 13th season, has died at age 31.
american idol, c.j. harris, dead
Wednesday, 18 January 2023 01:34 PM
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