According to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for the Walker County Coroner confirmed that CJ Harris died of a heart attack on Sunday (January 15th). Prior to his passing, the American Idol alum was rushed to the Jasper, Alabama hospital. Medical professionals performed CPR on the singer but were unsuccessful in reviving him.
Harris made an appearance on the 13th season of American Idol in 2014. He performed Allman Brothers’ Soulshine and earned a trip to Hollywood. The singer continued on the show and performed other amazing tracks, including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Free Fallin’ and Hunter Hayes’ Invisible. He then finished in sixth place for that season.
American Idol issued a statement about Harris following the news broke about his passing. “CJ Harris was an incredible talent, and the news of his passing deeply saddens us. He will be truly missed.”
Darius Rucker, who is reportedly a close friend of Harris, also took to Twitter to honor the American Idol alum. “My heart goes out to CJ and his family. Sad day,” he wrote. Harris performed at the Grand Ole Opry with Rucker in 2019. They sang In Love.
‘American Idol’ Alum CJ Harris Revealed He Once Auditioned for ‘The X-Factor’ and ‘The Voice’
While speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2014, CJ Harris opened up about his struggles to get into the top singing competitions. He originally tried out for American Idol in 2010 but never made it past the first round.
“I auditioned for The X-Factor. I auditioned for The Voice, and I never got through, and it hurt me,” Harris said at the time. “It really did. So I went back home and that’s what made me stop playing in bars. I wanted to get it get-her and find out who I am.”
Harris then said he was always on the internet and tried to find a break. He then searched for American Idol and saw they were doing a bus tour. “They were going to be 30 minutes down the road from me,” he continued. “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.’”
Harris revealed he had a chance to experience what it was like to be famous while being a season 13 contestant. He noted that every time he went somewhere, he would be recognized. “I think, ‘What in the world is going on?’ I’m shocked,” he added. The singer just couldn’t believe that anyone recognized him and it felt amazing.