‘America’s Got Talent’ Finalist Dies at 44


Zuri Craig
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A heartbreaking loss. America’s Got Talent alum Zuri Craig died on Friday, October 21. He was 44.

The singer’s family shared the news via social media on Sunday, October 23. “It is with profound sadness that we announce the transition of our beloved son, brother and friend, Zuri Craig,” the statement read. “We thank you in advance for your prayers. Please honor our privacy during this unimaginable time of mourning.”

In the caption, the reality TV personality’s loved ones added, “Please keep our family and friends in your prayers. More info forthcoming… 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 #RIPZuriCraig.”

A cause of death was not immediately revealed.

Craig was half of the Atlanta-based music group the CraigLewis Band. In 2015, he competed alongside partner Jeffrey Lewis on season 10 of AGT, delivering a show-stopping performance of James Brown’s “This Is a Man’s World.” The dynamic duo ended the season in fifth place, at one point earning a gold buzzer from Michael Bublé for their rendition of Mary J. Blige‘s “I’m Goin’ Down.”

Along with his time on the reality talent competition series, Craig appeared in Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011), A Madea Christmas (2011) and Madea Gets a Job (2013). Tyler Perry discovered the musician’s YouTube covers before his AGT stint and hired him to work on his movies.

Craig was in the process of creating a web series titled Black Hollywood: Atlanta, for which he held a casting call in July 2021. Earlier this month, the NBC alum promoted a project called “Soul Food Live on Stage” via Instagram, prompting fans to get tickets for the November production.

Several tragedies have impacted the AGT family over the past year. In July, season 15 contestant Nolan Neal was found unresponsive in his Nashville apartment. According to a spokesperson from the local medical examiner’s office, Nolan’s death was ruled an accident caused by “acute combined drug toxicity with morphine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and acetyl fentanyl.” (The late singer had been candid about his struggles with substance abuse before he passed away at 41.)

Several months prior, season 16’s Nightbirde (real name Jane Marczewski) died at age 31 after a long battle with cancer. Howie Mandel and his fellow judges issued heartfelt tributes in the late performer’s honor after learning of the loss.

“@_nightbirde was such a bright inspirational light in all our lives.we must continue to live and learn from her words and lyrics. As much as I feel horribly about her passing I feel lucky to to have met, heard and known her,” the 66-year-old comedian tweeted in February.

America’s Got Talent released a statement as well, telling Us at the time, “Your voice, your story, and your message touched millions. Nightbirde will always be a member of the AGT family. Rest In Peace, Jane.”

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