American Idol contestant CJ Harris died at the age of 31 on Sunday.
The artist appeared to have a heart attack and was taken by ambulance to the Walker Baptist Medical Center in his hometown of Jasper, Alabama.
According to TMZ, the crooner, whose full name is Curtis ‘CJ’ Harris, was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the emergency room.
In 2014, the singer appeared on the reality show and made it to the top six. He later became friends with Darius Rucker, who later became his mentor.
A family member told the site that the family was in shock over his death.
His journey to Idol was rocky.
Harris first tried out for The X-Factor and The Voice, but was unsuccessful. That’s when he turned his attention to American Idol, where he made a big impression during the 13th season, which aired in 2014.
Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr, and Keith Urban were the judges at the time.
He auditioned first in Tuscaloosa then in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Harris impressed judges with his rendition of the Allman Brothers Band’s classic hit tune Soulshine.
Judge Urban told CJ, ‘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.’
Then CJ sang Too Close, American Woman, and Free Fallin’.
He made it all the way to sixth place.
In 2014 he told The Hollywood Reporter he auditioned for American Idol on a whim. ‘I saw they were doing the bus tour and they were going to be 30 minutes down the road from me,’ he began.
He then added, ‘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. I’m 23, before you know it I’ll be 33 and I want to give it another chance,”‘ he shared.
He went on to have success after Idol, performing at the Grand Ole Opry with Darius Rucker after moving to Nashville.
He also took part in American Idol’s season 13 tour.
Harris had previously stated that he came from humble beginnings.
At the age of eight, he began learning to play the guitar on a broken instrument given to him by his grandfather. It only had three strings, but it was enough to get him interested in music. He also sang in the church choir and studied the piano.
John Legend, John Mayer, and Keith Urban were among his influences.
As an independent musician prior to American Idol, he released an album titled Small Town Boy.
Jessica Meuse, who competed alongside Harris on season 13 of American Idol, paid a touching tribute.
‘Your talent and smile will be missed, and the world will be a darker and eerily quieter place without you,’ she wrote. ‘I’ll miss your random phone calls asking for life advice and discussing the music industry… There are a lot of things I realize I’ll never understand, and one of them is you leaving us so soon.’