Tragedy has once again touched NBC’s hit singing competition — Season 13 Voice contestant Janice Freeman has died at the age of 33. Per E! News, Freeman’s rep revealed she died on Saturday due to combined complications of lupus and a bronchial infection. A native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Freeman is survived by her husband Dion, her 12-year-old daughter Hannah, her mother Janice, and a large, tight-knit extended family (who occasionally made cameos on Freeman’s social media).
According to Freeman’s rep, her death was unexpected. “On Saturday afternoon, Janice began complaining that she couldn’t breathe properly and, in a matter of minutes, required CPR from her husband,” explained her rep. “He called 911, continuing to do CPR until paramedics arrived. While Janice arrived at the hospital alive, continued efforts could not save her. Doctors believe a blood clot had formed in her lungs, which led to her quick demise. Janice Freeman died at 5:30 p.m. PST.”
Her cousin, Johanna Freeman, later confirmed the death on Instagram. Posting a video of the pair singing Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” — the same song Freeman sang for her blind audition on The Voice — Johanna wrote a message in remembrance of her late cousin. “The last time we spoke you gave me so much life and encouragement even though you yourself needed the encouragement, you promised me that I was never alone and not only was our Heavenly Father present, that I had you as well,” said Johanna. “Knowing you and having you apart of my life has been such a blessing to me. You taught me so much about who God wanted me to be and about embracing my gifts and for that I am forever grateful.”
Freeman quickly became a fan favorite when she appeared on The Voice in 2017, thanks largely to her positive outlook on life. During her time on the show, fans learned that Freeman’s daughter Hannah was born when Freeman was 21 years old. Only four years later, Hannah’s father passed away from cancer, leaving Freeman a grieving single mother. Then, in 2012, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She fought and beat it, meeting her husband Dion along the way.
In a statement, Dion touched on Freeman’s battle with cancer, as well as the fact she lived with two autoimmune diseases: lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome. “She struggled every single day,” he said. “She was constantly in pain — literally, for years — but was sure she would conquer it all. She just kept fighting.”
Freeman’s powerful rendition of “Radioactive” caught the attention of both Jennifer Hudson and Miley Cyrus, the latter of whom Freeman chose to mentor her. She made it all the way to the Top 11 round, at which point she fell into the bottom two and was eliminated. But she clearly made a lasting impression on the coaches. Cyrus paid tribute to Freeman in her Instagram Stories, sharing a photo of a rainbow and writing, “Thank you @janicefreeman… for everything. This represents you perfectly.”
Hudson took to Instagram to honor Freeman, sharing a video of Freeman’s audition performance. “@janicefreeman the voice of hers we got to hear and the bit of life we got to watch her life was a blessing and inspiration to us all! My heart and prayers go out to @janicefreeman daughter and family! @mileycyrus @nbcthevoice #ripjanicefreeman,” Hudson wrote.
At this time, no plans for a memorial service have been announced.