Entertainment

American Idol Alum C.J. Harris Dead at 31

In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2022

The American Idol family has lost a beloved member.

C.J. Harris, who appeared on the singing competition in 2014, died on Jan. 15 in Jasper, Ala., the Walker County coroner confirmed to E! News. He was 31.

Harris’ death seemed “natural,” the coroner said. There is currently no evidence of foul play, and his cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

In 2014, Harris landed a spot on American Idol‘s 13th season after attending bus tour auditions in Tuscaloosa and later performing in front of the judges—who at the time were Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban—in Salt Lake City with his rendition of Allman Brothers Band‘s “Soulshine.”

Harris advanced all the way to the show’s top 10 finalists, performing songs such as The Marshall Tucker Band‘s “Can’t You See” and John Mayer‘s “Gravity.” He finished in sixth place that season.

Following news of Harris’ death, his fellow American Idol contestants paid tribute to him on social media, including season winner Caleb Johnson.

“This hurts so much,” Johnson wrote on Instagram Jan. 16. “CJ was my roommate on @americanidol during Hollywood week and then lived right next door to me and @realalexpreston during the live shows. We instantly became friends and formed a brotherhood pack,” alongside contestants Alex Preston and Sam Woolf.

Johnson said he formed “so many amazing memories and experiences” with Harris, adding, “Life is so fragile!”

“I am so grateful that our lives got to cross paths in this lifetime,” he continued. “You were a beautiful, kind soul that always made the room brighter with your smile and laughter. Love you brother. you were taken from us way to soon! Until we meet again.”

Preston—who placed third in season 13—said he “woke up and thought it was a dream.”

“I cant believe this,” Preston wrote. “I love you dude. I’ll always remember the good times we all had.”

FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Woolf described Harris as “a genuine and loving person,” recalling that they “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,” Woolf wrote. “My thoughts go out to his family. Rest easy my dude.”

Before making strides on American Idol‘s 13th season, Harris had auditioned before in 2010 but “never made it past the first round,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2014. He also tried his hand at The X-Factor and The Voice, though he said he “never got through, and it hurt me.”

However, Harris—whose grandfather introduced him to music—was determined to see his dream through.

He added, “I was always on the internet, trying to find a break, looking for which producers I could send my stuff to.”

Following his time on American Idol, Harris took notice on how his life was beginning to change.

“Everywhere I go I’ve been recognized, like at Taco Bell, the mall and airports,” he said. “People ask me, ‘Are you C.J. Harris?’ I think, ‘What in the world is going on?’ I’m shocked. I don’t know them, they’re from a whole other world than me, but they know who I am. It’s amazing.” 

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