Skilyr Hicks, the singer who earned rave reviews on the eighth season of America's Got Talent for her impressive performance and original songwriting, died Monday in Liberty, S.C. She was 23.
Hick's mother, Breelyn Hicks, confirmed the news on Facebook as well as to TMZ, telling the outlet Hicks was found unresponsive at a friend's house.
A cause of death is currently unknown, but Hicks told TMZ her daughter suffered from both substance abuse and depression. In the past few years, the young singer-songwriter made headlines when she was arrested for underage drinking and charged for domestic violence for allegedly assaulting her family members.
Bill Records/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images Skilyr Hicks performing on 'America's Got Talent'
"My super beautiful, extremely talented, hilarious, free spirit of a sister left this world to be with Jesus," Breelyn Hicks wrote on Facebook. "I can't possibly put into words how broken-hearted I am. I will miss her like crazy. I'll miss her voice, her long warm hugs, her constantly making jokes using puns. Her ability to create music that inspired thousands of people."
Hicks first appeared on the talent competition in 2013 when she performed an original song on her guitar for Howard Stern, Mel B, Heidi Klum, and Howie Mandel. Her soulful, heartfelt performance, which earned acclaim from the judges, was marked by its own tragedy: Hicks revealed to them that she had lost her father only a few years before.
"He made some bad decisions, and I hadn't seen him in a few years… After his funeral, I wrote my first song," she said, explaining that he was the reason she taught herself to write and play music.
"I feel like you won all of our hearts," Klum said after the performance, while Mel B called her voice "way more mature" than one would expect from a 14-year-old.
Although Hicks earned four yeses from the judges, she was eliminated before the show's live rounds. Still, her performance made an impact, with Mandel telling her, "I think you're inspiring the nation right now," adding that he felt her father was looking down at her.
A representative for AGT did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.