Leah LaBelle was a gifted singer whose death alongside her NBA-player husband Rasual Butler in a Los Angeles car crash Wednesday is hard to accept, friends including Pharrell Williams said on social media.
“Your spirit was just as your voice; beautiful,” Williams said in an Instagram post that included a photo with LaBelle.
“Moments like these leave us with so many questions. What I don’t question is how much you loved God, how much you love your life partner and where you guys are now. Sing Sis, sing,” the super-producer wrote.
“Loved me some her @leahlabelle #heartbroken,” actress Nia Long said in a Twitter post that also included a photo with LaBelle.
LaBelle, 31, was a contestant on the third season of “American Idol” in 2014, where she reached the finals. She later went on tour as a background vocalist for the show’s 2007 champion Jordin Sparks and signed a record deal with Williams.
“My heart is just so heavy & broken,” Sparks wrote in an Instagram post that called LaBelle “one of my closest friends.”
Sparks posted a black and white photo of LaBelle and Butler with her message, referring to Butler as LaBelle’s “amazing other half who also was a great friend.”
Fellow “American Idol” alum Fantasia, who won the season that included LaBelle, expressed her shock too.
“This just doesn’t seem right even saying right now but Rest In Peace Baby Girl,” Fantasia tweeted. “I will never forget you. Idol Family Forever.”
Andreao (Fanatic) Heard, who recorded a demo with LaBelle in 2005, said he was in “disbelief” at the news.
“My 1st reaction was how will your mom get through this. You two were sooooo close and meant everything to each other. The conversation you, your mother and I had at dinner “that night” made me feel like you were repaired and ready to dive back into this madness we call the music business. I was hoping that the world would finally get to see what I saw in you. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience your gift up close and personal,” he wrote on Instagram.
“Hopefully I can find the strength and mental clarity to realease the magic that we created that weekend in NY. God gave us an angel even if for only a moment. Some of us got a chance to experience some amazing vocals that came from the soul and a beautiful person with an amazing spirit. Will always remember how special you were.”
Los Angeles Police said Wednesday that a 2011 Land Rover carrying Butler and LaBelle drove off the road around 2:25 a.m. and collided with three parking meters before hitting a concrete wall, flipping over twice and coming to a stop in the parking lot of a shopping mall on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.
The vehicle was traveling westbound “at a high rate of speed” before the accident, police said.
Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to the scene and pronounced both Butler, who was driving, and LaBelle, who was a passenger, dead at the scene.
Butler, 38, played 13 seasons in the NBA with eight different teams.
He was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2002 and later played for the Hornets, Clippers, Bulls, Raptors, Wizards, Pacers and Spurs.
“Our entire organization is deeply saddened after learning of the death of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle,” the Pacers said in a statement.
“In his one season with us, Rasual was the consummate team player and a great role model for our younger players on how a professional should prepare and act, while being a positive influence on everyone who associated with him. We offer our sincerest condolences to he and his wife’s family.”