American Idol runner up Willie Spence brought the soul with his touching cover of Rihanna’s hit “Diamonds”, wowing 32 million listeners on YouTube.
At age 22 Spence hit the national stage by becoming runner up on the 19th season of American Idol . The pop and soul singer was sadly taken too soon from us at age 23 in a car crash, but his unique voice and spirit lives on. “Diamonds” remains his most popular song and you can hear his take on the megahit below.
Spence was born in West Palm Beach, Florida on June 18, 1999. His family then moved to Douglas, Georgia, where he grew up and in his later years he moved to the capital Atlanta.
The talented and passionate singer began posting his performances online during high school. His version of “Diamonds” made his name, as his take on it went viral on YouTube in 2017. He also made his own music, and you can hear his song “Never Be Alone” below.
Sadly this rising star met a tragically early end on October 11, 2022, as he was killed in a car crash on Interstate 24 near Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was driving a Jeep Cherokee when he lost control at around 4pm ET and hit a semi-trailer parked on the side of the road. The driver of the truck was not injured.
Spence initially made a splash on American Idol with his performances of “Diamonds” and “Never Be Alone”. His performances were widely praised by the judges and fans. He eventually placed second on the show, behind Apple Valley, California singer-songwriter Chayce Beckham. Beckham, somewhat eerily, almost died in a car crash in late 2020, just two weeks before his American Idol audition.
“Never Be Alone” was a significant step for Spence, as it showed him branching out with his own music. The song was written by Breaking Benjamin rhythm guitarist Keith Wallen.
At the song’s release Spence was ecstatic, stating that being able record with producer Tricky Stewart for the song was “definitely a dream come true!” The song was part of the singer’s five track EP Never Be Alone, which was released in 2021. Upon the EP’s release Spence explained that “I put my personality and all of my feelings into every song. When you listen, I hope you feel the emotion. I want the audience to get the message you can live your dream if you work hard, stay focused and keep pushing.”
Fans have not forgotten the man with the golden voice, as in the YouTube comments for his “Diamonds” performance, you can find many people giving thanks that he left us with such beautiful music before his time was up.
“Diamonds” was originally released by Barbadian goddess Rihanna as the lead single for her seventh studio album Unapologetic back in 2012.
The song was written by Sia and the production team for the recording, Benny Blanco and Stargate.
“Diamonds” topped charts in over 20 countries and became Riri’s 12th number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100, tying her with The Supremes and Madonna. She’s since surpassed this and now has 14 number one hits on the chart, which puts her in fourth place on the record books, just behind Elvis Presley, Mariah Carey and The Beatles. If you would like to see more from Willie Spence, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow them on Instagram.