America’s Got Talent and The Voice Star Dead At 41

Singer Nolan Neal, a former contestant on America’s Got Talent and The Voice, has died at 41.

While the exact cause of Neal’s death currently is unclear, Neal’s cousin Dylan Seals told PEOPLE that he “ultimately succumbed to his battle with substance abuse.”

America’s Got Talent and The Voice Star Nolan Neal Dead At 41

The local medical examiner’s office confirmed to TMZ how the Nashville-based musician died on Monday. Seals also confirmed to the news outlet that the entertainer was found dead in his apartment.

The late musician’s cousin called him “one of the most talented people” he’s ever met while working in the entertainment industry.

“He was a natural-born entertainer and it was obvious to all of us from an early age. He blew us all away with his incredibly powerful vocal delivery and songwriting,” Seals, who is an audio engineer, said in a statement shared with the outlet.

“Working with him in the studio was awe-inspiring. The speed at which he could write arrange and record the basics of a track was legendary. He was pure creative energy. He put everything he had in the music. He sang from deep within his soul. Upon reflection this morning, it was likely his tortured soul crying out. Music was life or death for him. It was everything.”

He continued, “Three years ago this month, at my request, he sang James Taylor’s ‘Fire and Rain’ at my father’s funeral. It meant the world to me and would have to my father, who was Nolan’s biggest fan. That song has been running through my mind all morning.”

Seals added that he’s “saddened” to learn that Neal “ultimately succumbed to his battle with substance abuse.”

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“He was always open and honest about that struggle,” Seals said. “He was a loving father and son. A light to all who knew him. My heart goes out to his two children and his mother Cathy.” 

Neal first rose to fame as a contestant in The Voice‘s 15th season, airing in 2016. His audition performance of the Incubus song “Drive” which secured him a spot on Adam Levine‘s team. However, he was eventually eliminated from the competition.

And four years later, Neal went on to compete on America’s Got Talent in 2020. He auditioned with an original song called “Lost.” He was later eliminated in the Judges’ Choice section of the Quarterfinals.

Neal had opened up previously about his struggles with substance abuse. 

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“I remember I got clean in 2010; May 15, went to rehab. Stayed clean,” Neal told WBIR in 2020. “I joined the rock band Hinder, they were all about drinking and partying. This is not their fault. I had decided I wanted to drink like a normal person. I remember trying to be normal and fitting in. I remember going to a bar and ordering a drink. I tried to hide it. I remember pretending to be normal. I was just lying to myself telling myself that I could control it.”

Neal had previously admitted to having “lost my way on The Voice” as he continued drinking while competing on the show. However, he eventually discovered a process that worked for him and allowed him to remain sober.

“I found happiness by helping others in recovery,” he added. “I found a way to be happy without the things I thought made me happy before.” 

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