The singer, who released her latest self-titled EP in March, died in a three-vehicle crash in Taos, NM, on Wednesday, September 4, in the night. A driver in a second car, Maria Elena Cruz, 16, from San Cristóbal, was also killed, according to Taos News. The third driver was not injured in the accident.
According to the Taos County Sheriff’s Office, Harris was driving south toward Taos in a Chevrolet Equinox when she clipped the back of a Chevrolet Avalanche, sending her vehicle into the northbound lane, where she hit a white Jeep driven by Maria Elena. Both Harris and Maria Elena were wearing seatbelts at the time.
Investigators said speed was a factor in the crash, and evidence at the scene showed alcohol may be as well, Taos News reports, but officials are waiting for a toxicology report. Harris had a DWI conviction in Collin County, TX, in 2017.
“We are heartbroken to confirm that Kylie Rae Harris passed away in a car accident last night,” Harris’ publicist said in a statement to Refinery29. “We have no further details to share, and ask for privacy for her family at this time. Everyone that knew Kylie knew how much she loved her family and, beyond that, how much she loved music. The best tribute to her unmatched enthusiasm for both is to spread as much love as you can today, and listen to music that fully inspires you.”
Harris was slated to play Thursday at the Big Barn Dance Music Festival in Taos. She shared her excitement to play at the upcoming festival on Instagram.
“Magical times with wonderful people await!” wrote Harris.
The country community mourned Harris on social media. Singer Radney Foster expressed his grief over Harris’ death on Twitter.
“I am devastated by the loss of my friend Kylie Rae Harris. When she sang joy and soul ached out. She was full of life and love. Words are hard to come by, tears are not. Godspeed, Kylie Rae.”
Maren Morris shared her condolences on her Instagram story.
“@kylierh, you have always been so sweet and supportive of me. Your soulful voice and Texas beauty was always jaw-dropping, even when we were teenagers at the Larry Joe Taylor festival. Thinking of your family and your precious baby girl right now. Rest In Peace,” the singer wrote.
“A singer and songwriter who could hit you in the heart with her words and delivery. She and I loved a lot of the same artists and had always talked about writing together, but we never did. We ran into each other recently in West at the gas station. Of course she took a Snapchat. She was going to sign a copy of her new record for Mahala as Kylie is one of her favorite artists. She’s going to be devastated. We are all devastated to learn she is gone. You were a beautiful light. We will never forget and we will sing your songs forever.”
Harris’ song “Twenty Years From Now” is a message to her young daughter. Harris, who lost her father to cancer when he was 54, sings: “My prayer is that somehow/You’ll forgive all my mistakes and be proud of the choice I made / God I hope I’m still around/Twenty years from now.”
This article was originally published on September 5, 2019; it has been updated with new information throughout.