A 23-year-old American Idol finalist was killed in a car accident Tuesday, just one month before he was to perform at a Baptist church in London and just hours after he posted a video on social media singing a powerful rendition of the hymn You Are My Hiding Place.
Willie Spence, who grew up in Georgia, was killed around 4 p.m. Tuesday on Interstate 24 near Chattanooga, Tenn., when his Jeep Cherokee went off the road and crashed into another vehicle that was stopped on the shoulder, according to WSB-TV. The driver of the other vehicle was not injured.
Spence finished second on the 19th season of American Idol in 2021, although he was already known in the social media realm for his 2017 performance of Rihanna’s Diamonds. It received millions of views.
The same day he was killed, Spence posted a video of him sitting in his car, eyes closed and hand raised in worship, singing You Are My Hiding Place, a song made popular in recent years by the Christian group Selah.
“You are my hiding place, You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You, I will trust in You. Let the weak say, ‘I am strong in the strength of the Lord,’” Spence sang.
He wrote on his Instagram page, “Lord, you are my hiding place.”
Spence was scheduled to sing on Nov. 12 at Trinity Baptist Church in London, United Kingdom.
Fellow musicians posted tributes on his Instagram page.
“You’re with Jesus now. God bless you. Thankful for the time we had,” wrote Katharine Foster, a singer on the sixth season of American Idol.
“God was ready to hold you in his arms in heaven after this song,” wrote singer Jimmy Levy. “Halleluyah he sent you as an angel on earth.”
Photo courtesy: ©Bogomil Mihaylov/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.