Anthony Riley, who was a Season 8 contestant on NBC’s The Voice, was discovered dead of apparent suicide in the basement of his Philadelphia apartment on Friday. Authorities have not yet revealed his official cause of death. Riley, who made it to the “Battle Rounds” of The Voice this past January, was 28 at the time of his death.
Riley had been a well-known street performer in Center City at the time he got a break and had a “Blind Audition” on The Voice. He sang pop and Motown hits for tips. In 2014, Riley was named by Philadelphia Magazine as the “City’s Best” street performer. The “Blind Auditions” episode of The Voice that he was in aired in February 2015.
His sister, Halima Miley, told the Inquirer that “The city was his family.” She said “Everybody knew him,” and “The public loved him.”
He managed to get all four of the coaches’ chairs to turn around for him in the fastest time ever for a “Four Chair Turn-Around” after he impressed them with his performance of the James Brown hit, I Got You (I Feel Good). After listening to Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Pharrell Williams trying to convince him to select them to be his coach, he decided to become a member of Team Pharrell.
The talented musical artist and contestant Riley, who was discovered dead by apparent suicide, did not leave The Voice‘s Season 8 competition because he had failed to go any further in it. Riley won his first “Battle Round.” Rather, he confessed that he had a substance abuse problem, and Riley left The Voice competition in the winter. He voluntarily entered rehab to try to get help for his substance abuse problems.
Riley called the stress and long hours he spent working on The Voice too much “responsibility” for him. However, he added that everybody at The Voice offered him a lot of “support.”
It was not until March that it was revealed on The Voice that Riley had left the show. The exact reason was not mentioned, though. It was only mentioned that Riley left due to “personal reasons.” By the time that episode aired, Riley had already completed his stint in rehab and had started working on an album though he still continued to struggle with his addiction.
Riley decided to come out and say what the reasons were behind his leaving The Voice after rumors came out and his former manager tweeted on Riley’s account that he had supported a gunman who was convicted in the 1981 shooting death of a Philadelphia police officer. Later, his former manager admitted that Riley had nothing to do with sending out that tweet.
A statement issued by NBC stated that the network was “sad over the passing of Anthony Riley.” Also, the statement said that NBC offered their “deepest condolences to his friends and family during this very difficult time.”
Carson Daly, the host of The Voice, expressed his condolences, as well. He said at his Instagram account that Riley’s death was “a heartbreaking loss.” He added that “He was incredibly talented and loved to sing.”
A biography on Riley’s website states that he was raised by his grandmother. His stepmother passed away when he was 19. His father encouraged him to sing in Suburban Station to hone his skills. In 2010, Riley had tried out for American Idol on Fox. Then, he told the Inquirer that the sometimes tough Philadelphia crowds helped steel him for the music business. Also, singing in Las Vegas, he said, had helped him to evolve and become not just a singer, but a complete performer.
The Voice Season 8 contestant, Anthony Riley, was found dead of apparent suicide in the basement of his Philadelphia apartment on Friday. He was a fan favorite while he was on the show, and would have possibly gone much further than the “Battle Rounds” on the show if he had not voluntarily left to deal with his substance abuse problems.
Written By Douglas Cobb
NBC Universal Media Village
New York Daily News: ‘Voice’ contestant Anthony Riley, 28, dies in apparent suicide
Philly.com: Anthony Riley, Philly street singer
and ‘Voice’ contestant, dies at 28
E! Online: Anthony Riley, Former The Voice Contestant, Dies at Age 28