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‘American Idol’ Contestant CJ Harris Dead at 31

by Shelby Scott
CJ Harris Performs on 'American Idol'
(Photo by Michael Becker/FOX Image Collection via Getty Images)

Another young musician gone much too soon. On Sunday, January 15th, American Idol contestant CJ Harris died at just 31 years old. Reports state the young singer seemingly succumbed to a heart attack.

According to the Daily Mail, an ambulance was called to transport the American Idol contestant to a hospital in his hometown, Jasper, Alabama. However, after he arrived, he was pronounced dead.

The news outlet reports that Harris was close friends with country music star Darius Rucker. Their friendship ignited after Harris completed his run on the hit singing show. Harris featured on American Idol back in 2014 and finished the season as one of the show’s top six contestants.

After finishing out his run, Darius Rucker also became a mentor to CJ Harris.

Aside from his run on American Idol, CJ Harris also auditioned for several other competitive reality TV shows. His other two auditions came on The X-Factor and The Voice, from which the show’s original coach, Blake Shelton, only recently stepped down. Harris did not make it past his audition for either The X-Factor or The Voice. Nonetheless, he left a serious impression on American Idol judges and audiences alike.

Per the outlet, the late artist auditioned for season 13 twice. He first appeared in Tuscaloosa and then again in Salt Lake City, Utah. He impressed judges, including then-judge Keith Urban, with a cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s, “Soulshine.

Urban was stunned by CJ Harris’s audition piece. He told the young star, “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.”

CJ Harris Auditioned for ‘American Idol’ On a Whim

Prior to his death, CJ Harris saw much success in his career in music, even if he never actually took home the crown for American Idol. After wrapping his time on the singing show, which now sees Luke Bryan in the judge’s chair, Harris admitted he never actually intended to audition for the show.

Speaking with news outlets after the fact, he 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…I’m 23, before you know it I’ll be 33 and I want to give it another chance.'”

Tragically, CJ Harris will never actually make it to 33, his career cut extremely short, despite having featured on the Grand Ole Opry stage alongside Darius Rucker and having made multiple advances down his chosen path. Overall, CJ Harris’s death is especially tragic as his career had really only just begun.