Luke Bryan remembers Willie Spence, the season 19 ‘American Idol’ runner-up who died in a car crash

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ABC/Connie Chornuk

Luke Bryan is paying his respects to Willie Spence, the singer whose signature soulful voice brought him all the way to the finale of American Idol’s season 19.

Spence died from injuries sustained in a car accident on Tuesday, according to a local Tennessee news report, as well as a Tennessee Highway Patrol report obtained by ABC News. He was 23 years old.

In his reflection on Spence’s passing, Bryan — a country superstar and one of the American Idol judges — remembered Spence’s magnetism during his time on the show.

“Willie really did light up every room he walked into,” the singer wrote on social media. “He could change the mood instantly when he started singing. He will truly be missed.”

Spence first went viral as a teen with his 2017 cover performance of Rihanna’s “Diamonds,” a song he also used to audition for Idol in 2021. His performances wowed judges and fans throughout the season, and he ultimately came in second place to winner Chayce Beckham.

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