Frontline Response, an Atlanta-based nonprofit whose mission is to rescue individuals out of sex trafficking and homelessness, is mourning the loss of friend and supporter, Willie Spence. Spence passed away on Tuesday at the age of 23.
Throughout high school, Spence posted videos online showcasing his singing talent. In 2017, a video he shared went viral on YouTube, eventually garnering over 15 million views. This brought him significant attention, including an appearance on the talk show Steve, hosted by Steve Harvey.
The Georgia native captured the heart of the nation during his stint on American Idol just last year, with a memorable audition performance of Rihanna’s “Diamonds”, drawing a standing ovation from judge Lionel Richie and praise from judge Katy Perry. Spence had an epic run on the show, drawing praise along the way for his renditions of “The Prayer,” John Legend’s “All of Me,” Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” Elton John’s “Circle of Life”, and Coldplay’s “Yellow.” His performances earned him a spot in the show’s final three, where he ultimately finished as runner-up.
After Idol, Spence released a six-song EP, The Voice, in 2021 and was featured on Briana Moir’s 2022 single, “The Living Years.”
Frontline Officials said, “Willie was a beloved friend and heartfelt supporter of our work. We are honored to be a part of celebrating his life, and may the work that we do be an extension of his legacy.”
Officials continued, “Willie was a great humanitarian and we were all grateful for his presence. His remarkable talent has left a lasting impression on the world and he was taken from us too soon. We send our deep condolences to his family, loved ones, and fans.”