Willie Spence has stolen America’s heart, and now, it’s time to see if he has what it takes to win “American Idol”.
The 21-year-old Georgia native has impressed both fans and the judges alike with his booming vocals, and his transparency and genuineness have gripped viewers across the country.
What do we know about Willie Spence? Who exactly is he, and what are his goals for his singing career?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Had a Health Scare Last Year
During his initial audition, Spence shared a story about a recent health scare that was a pivotal turning point in his life.
“I turned myself into the hospital to get a checkup because I had pain in my chest and the doctors told me that they found fluid in my lungs,” he said. “I weighed 600 pounds. When they told me that, I knew I had to focus more on my health. I went from 600 to 400 pounds.”
He added, “If I don’t have good health, I won’t have a career.”
For that audition, Spence belted out “Diamonds” by Rihanna, and the judges gave him a standing ovation.
2. He Was ‘Honored’ & ‘Grateful’ to Make the Top 10
In an interview with WFXL Fox 31, Spence explained that even making it to the top 10 was “surreal.”
He shared, “I’m doing this for my family and I’m also doing this for my supporter. I don’t like calling them the fans. I like calling them my supporters because that’s what they’re doing. They’re supporting me.”
Speaking to the outlet, James Banks, of the Coffee County School System, said of Spence, “Sometimes during first block, I would visit his chorus class… and his teacher at the time was Ms. Myers, and she would have them do a warmup song,” says Banks. “The anointing in that room during the first block actually got me through the whole day just listening to him and his classmates.”
3. He Visited His Hometown in Georgia the Week of the Finale
The week heading into the finale of “American Idol”, Spence took a trip to his hometown of Douglas, Georgia. There, according to WSB TV, he was greeted by Mayor Tony Paulk who “declared Tuesday, May 18 as Willie Spence Day and gave him a key to the city.”
The outlet quoted Paulk as saying, “This is the official welcome home to the next ‘American Idol’!”
The outlet added that Governor Brian Kemp went so far as to declare the entire week “Willie Spence Week” throughout Georgia.
When Spence spoke to WBS TV, he said, “I’m still trying to take it all in. I’m still shocked and mind blown. I’m really grateful and blessed,” he said.
4. The Judges Have Praised Spence’s Smooth Vocals
When Spence performed last week, the judges had nothing but positive things to say about his voice.
After belting out John Legend’s “Glory”, judge Katy Perry exclaimed, “Willie, it was amazing, it was connected, it was spiritual. I’m speechless.”
Luke Bryan added, “You are literally going to save people’s lives with your voice… You’re going to bring people out of stuff and, you know what, they’re going to walk up to you one day and they’re going to tell you you saved their lives.”
Lionel Richie, lastly, said, “You have such a presence, such an aura… But most importantly, you’re uplifting.”
5. He Works as a Caretaker in Georgia
Spence works as a caretaker in Georgia.
When he first auditioned, he told cameras, “I came here because this is what I want to do… I don’t see myself being anything other than a singer. Music has always been a passion to me. To even have this opportunity to audition for American Idol is such a blessing.”
Where does he see himself five years down the line?
Winning a Grammy.
When he initially auditioned, he told Katy Perry, “I just want my voice to reach the world and share my gift, hopefully, winning a Grammy one day. That’s where I see myself in 5 years… It’s going to take hard work, but I think I can do it.”
The finale of “American Idol” will air on Sunday at 5 p.m. Pacific time, 8 p.m. Eastern time.
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