Former “American Idol” contestant Curtis “C.J.” Harris’ Jan. 15 death was caused by a heart attack, a spokesperson for the Walker County coroner confirmed to TODAY.com.
Harris was 31 years old and died in Jasper, Alabama.
According to the spokesperson, on the day of his death, a call came to 911 from his house from Harris’ girlfriend. Harris was then transferred by ambulance to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead by a doctor. An autopsy has not yet been conducted.
In 2014, Harris competed in the 13th season of “American Idol” and finished in sixth place. During his time on the competition series, Harris performed songs including “Bring It On Home to Me” by Sam Cooke, “Shelter” by Ray LaMontagne, and “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty for judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban.
In a 2014 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Harris explained that he discovered his love for country, blues, and rock music while in high school. He also revealed that music became an influential part of his life when he was six years old at a time when his mother was serving time in prison.
“She would sing to me over the phone, and tears would just flow out of my eyes,” he explained to the outlet.
When he was older, he said his grandfather gave him a guitar that had just three strings.
“I would tune it in a way that when I strummed it, it sounded like it’s in a key of whatever,” Curtis said. “I find different sounds. I just love music, so I really try to find a sound that I really like and just play it. I know that’s weird, but that’s what I do.”
At the start of 2023, Harris announced on his personal Facebook page that he had new music coming soon.