Kya Monee returned to American Idol in 2023 and paid tribute to her late friend, Willie Spence, during her audition.

American Idol is back on ABC airing Sundays at 8 pm ET from February 19.

Back in 2021, Kya auditioned for the first time during American Idol season 19 in San Diego.

Sadly, Kya’s former duet partner, Willie Spence, passed away. But, she returned to the ABC show for series 21 and begins a second American Idol journey in 2023.

KYA MONEE performs during American Idol wearing black top and trousers
Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Who is Kya Monee?

Hailing from Austin Texas, Kya Monee said that she was auditioning for American Idol to “share her gift” with everyone.

Kya had previously appeared on the ABC show as Willie Spence’s duet partner in 2021.

The 22-year-old became tearful and said that she and Willie formed a “very close friendship” on the show.

Kya Monee pays tribute to Willie Spence

During her American Idol audition in 2023, Kya explained that the was previously partnered with the late Willie Spence when she appeared on the show in 2021.

Kya and Willie became friends and he encouraged her to continue her singing passion just days before his passing.

She said during her audition that she was “still trying to cope” with Willie’s passing.

Kya added that Willie was meant to be with her at her audition, saying through tears that it was “hard” not having him there.

Willie also helped Kya pick her audition song. She sang I’m Here from The Color Purple.

Willie tragically passed away from a traffic collision in October 2022.

Kya continues on American Idol

After blowing the judges away with her rendition of I’m Here, Kya got three yeses and makes it through to the next American Idol round.

The judges welcomed Kya back to Hollywood as she received a golden ticket from them.

Kya wanted to make her late friend, Willie, proud with her performance. She sang the song through tears and said: “I feel like I was able to honor Willie tonight.”

Katy Perry said: “That’s how you sing through crying.”



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