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CJ Harris death: Former ‘American Idol’ stars ‘shocked’ as 2014 finalist dies at 31

A spokesman for the Walker County Coroner's Office confirmed CJ Harris' death but did not provide an official cause of death
UPDATED JAN 17, 2023
2014 'American Idol' contestant CJ Harris suffered a heart attack late Sunday, January 15, night while in Jasper, Alabama (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
2014 'American Idol' contestant CJ Harris suffered a heart attack late Sunday, January 15, night while in Jasper, Alabama (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

JASPER, ALABAMA: Several previous 'American Idol' contestants have paid tribute to 2014 finalist CJ Harris, 31, who died on Sunday, January 15, night. Harris suffered a heart attack late Sunday night in Jasper, Alabama, according to his relatives. He was rushed to the hospital, but at 8:53 pm, he was pronounced dead.

Harris participated and finished sixth in the 13th season of the singing contest. “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," Judge Keith Urban told Harris during his audition, as reported by The Daily Beast.


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Sam Woolf, who placed fifth on 'American Idol' wrote, “Cj was such a genuine and loving person. We became close friends during the show and were roommates on the tour. I’m very grateful to have gone through that incredible experience with him alongside Caleb and Alex. My thoughts go out to his family. Rest easy my dude.”


The fourth-place finisher on Season 13 of 'American Idol', Jessica Meuse, paid tribute to Harris and voiced her shock at the news in her tribute. “My heart is heavy to hear of the passing of fellow @americanidol and friend @cjharrismusic. I’m completely shocked,” she wrote. “Your talent and smile will be missed, and the world is definitely a darker and eerily quieter place without you in it. I’ll miss your random phone calls asking for life advice and talking about the music world. When you go through something like Idol together, it brings everyone involved together like a big, weird, dysfunctional family.”


Alex Preston, who came in third place, posted a throwback video where a number of finalists, including Harris, “tied me to the door and pranked me in a daze. I wish we talked more often in our later years. Last time we talked I mixed some stems for him, and he sounded so good. RIP bro.”


Caleb Johnson, who won Harris’ season, also posted a tribute on Twitter. “Absolutely tragic you were taken from us way to soon . Love you brother.” He wrote, "Absolutely tragic you were taken from us way to soon . Love you brother @CJHarrisMusic."


Harris' debut single, 'In Love' was released in 2019. On January 2, he issued a message to supporters on his official Facebook page announcing new music "coming soon."


"Happy New Years! New music coming soon!," CJ wrote in his last Facebook post on New Year's day while also sharing his smiling picture. A fan recently commented, "I'm in shock. Doesn't even seem real. Thank you for all the amazing late night Tik Tok lives when we'd all get together and sing! And I'll never ever forget all the kind encouraging words you'd give me on my singing. and those DMS always checking up seeing how I was doing. Or the times when you was at my uncle's house singing and playing guitar. Once you started you got down with it. Your heart and soul for music was a force to reckon with. I just can't seem to shake this. You're the best Rip in heaven Cj .gone to soon."

According to Complex, a representative with the Walker County Coroner's Office verified his death but did not provide a cause of death. 'American Idol' also announced it in a social media post. In an Instagram Story, American Idol posted, “C.J. Harris was an incredible talent, and the news of his passing deeply saddens us. He will truly be missed.”