Talent Recap

‘American Idol’ Season 13 Star CJ Harris Reportedly Dead At The Age of 31

CJ Harris at Fox's "American Idol XIII" Finalists PartyPhoto by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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The American Idol family has lost yet another up and coming singer. Season 13 finalist CJ Harris has reportedly passed away at the age of 31.

CJ Harris Passes Away From a Heart Attack

On Monday, January 16, news broke that former American Idol finalist CJ Harris suffered from a heart attack in Jasper, Alabama. According to TMZ, the singer was taken to a local hospital in an ambulance, but unfortunately passed away enroute.

American Idol fans remember Harris from season 13 of the show, where he made it into the Top 6. The Jasper native blew Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. away with his rendition of “Soulshine” by Allman Brothers Band.

Urban commented on Harris’s talent saying “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.”

At the time of his audition, Harris was 23 years old and working at a barbeque restaurant. The singer had reportedly already independently recorded an album titled Small Town Boy.


Harris continued to thrive on the series soon after his audition. He had various outstanding performances of songs like “Too Close” by Alex Clare, “American Woman” by The Guess Who, and “Free Fallin'” by Tom Petty. Although this singer gave several wonderful performances, he didn’t receive enough votes to continue into the semifinals. Instead of being eliminated, the American Idol judges picked him as a wild card act.

It’s been reported that Harris also auditioned for The X Factor and The Voice, but was unsuccessful. While reflecting on his audition, Harris shared the reason he decided to take another chance.

“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,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.'”

His Life After American Idol

From there, Harris continued in the competition, making it all the way into the Top 6 before being eliminated. After Harris’s journey on the show, he took part in the American Idol season 13 tour alongside Caleb Johnson, Jena Irene, Alex Preston, Jessica Meuse, Sam Woolf, Dexter Roberts, Malaya Watson, Majesty Rose, and MK Nobilette.

Around this time, he reunited with Darius Rucker at The Grand Ole Opry, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee with Preston and Woolf. In 2019, the singer released his first single “In Love.” At the time of his song’s release, he described his music as “a mix between country, blues, soul and Southern rock.”

Other than his debut single, Harris kept a somewhat lowkey presence in the music industry. He shared various covers and performances on Instagram, but never released any other original tunes. Harris’s final Instagram post features photos of him on stage. The caption reads “Photos from the 2022 frog level in Fayette alabama. 64 Sessions Adam Stacks @micheal smith.”

CJ Harris was only 31 years old at the time of his death.

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