CJ Harris’ cause of death was announced on Thursday (January 19), less than a week later his sudden and tragic passing.
The singer died aged just 31 after suffering a heart attack on Sunday (January 15), according to reports by People. (Billboard has contacted the Walker County Coroner’s Office in Harris’ native Alabama for confirmation.)
Harris first made waves across the nation by competing on season 13 of american idol in 2014 when he auditioned for judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and newcomer Harry Connick Jr. with a cover of “Soulshine” by The Allman Brothers Band. After earning his golden ticket, he advanced through Hollywood Week and the semifinals to become one of the three Wild Card contenders to reach the season’s crop of 13 finalists.
During the live shows, Harris often appeared with his trusty guitar, doing country-soul covers of Darius Rucker’s “Radio”, “Can’t You See” by Toy Caldwell of The Marshall Tucker Band, Hunter Hayes’ “Invisible”, The SteelDrivers ‘ “If It Hadn’t Been For Love” and more. He was eventually eliminated in sixth place behind eventual winner Caleb Johnson, runner-up Jena Irene and fellow finalists Alex Preston, Jessica Meuse and Sam Woolf.
After her stint on Idol, Harris began the postseason American Idol LIVE! Tour 2014 with the rest of the top 10 and even duetted with Rucker – one of his biggest inspirations – at the Grand Ole Opry. In 2016, the singer faced legal trouble after being arrested in a drug bust in Walker, Ala., where he was charged with three counts of alleged felony distribution of a controlled substance, including oxycodone and marijuana. His debut single, “In Love” was released in 2019, and just weeks before his death, he hinted at new music he planned to release later this year.