Luke Bryan Gives High Praise to ‘American Idol’ Singer Willie Spence After Rihanna Cover [Watch]
When Willie Spence covered Rihanna's "Diamonds" on American Idol, he brought his singing and weightloss journey into the national spotlight. Luke Bryan would later praise the singer on social media, but even he may have yet to immerse himself in the Georgia man's full story.
Sunday night's (Feb. 21) appearance on American Idol was not the first time Spence had performed "Diamonds" for a large audience. It's not even the first time his performance went viral.
In 2018, then-18-year-old Spence blew his high school classmates away with a casual cover of the song and that video even found its way overseas. That March he dropped a studio video of the cover on YouTube, where he has more than 500,000 subscribers. It has since racked up more than 25 million views.
Add another 360K on Instagram and a significant following on Twitter and you'll discover a true favorite to win Season 19 of American Idol. There was little discussion about if Spence should go through to Hollywood after he performed his most comfortable cover song. Katy Perry talked to him for a minute about his longterm goals, while Lionel Richie and Bryan nodded as he answered with: the Grammys.
"Didn't think anyone could come close to Rihanna singing 'Diamonds' ... until I heard Willie Spence. Truly incredible, buddy," Bryan said on Facebook after Sunday night's show.
Spence did get a Golden Ticket, meaning his journey is taking a big step toward fulfillment. It comes as he's put his weight loss journey on full display. Parade reports that Spence had a major health scare within the last year.
"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 shares. "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."
Healthy eating and exercise has been his prescription.
Now 21 years old, Spence's personal and professional futures seem bright. That he has much more experience than most auditioning for the current season means he has an advantage. He'll have to continue to prove himself in upcoming rounds and show that he has a more dynamic song range than a single Rihanna cut.
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