Former American Idol contestant Nikki McKibbin has died, her husband, Craig Sadler, confirmed.
In an official statement, the singer, who was just 42 years old, was said to have suffered a brain aneurysm, and while sources say she had been in the hospital on life support, she was pronounced dead in the early hours on Sunday, November 1.
In a heartfelt message posted on Facebook, Sadler, who married McKibbin in 2007, wrote: “Many of you already know something is wrong. The love of my life Nikki Sadler suffered an aneurysm on Wednesday. She would already be gone, but she’s an organ donor and has been kept on life support to make that possible.
“That shouldn’t be a surprise to us. Even at the end she is still giving. ‘She was so loved that I know thousands of you will be grieving with us.
"There are only a few hours left for me to hold her hand and kiss her forehead. The current Covid situation won’t allow the huge service that she deserves, but I would like to offer you the opportunity to honor her.”
Her favorite song, "Landslide" by Stevie Nicks, played in the operating room when her organs were harvested before she was pronounced dead.
Sadler went on to say that his wife was an amazing woman who — even in her final moments — thought about others by giving “her final gift that will save the lives of strangers.”
McKibbin competed on the first season of American Idol in 2002 and finished in third place. Kelly Clarkson ended up winning the series, with Justin Guarini as the runner-up.
The latter has since reacted to the news of his former pal in an emotional tribute posted on Instagram, where he wrote: “Even in our 20’s when we were on American Idol together I could tell that she’d had a challenging life, and that not that many people had been kind to her along the way…
“But I’ll never forget the day that her idol, Stevie Nicks, sent her flowers with a card that said ‘You are the Gypsy that I was…’ Nikki was on cloud nine and the joy and excitement that radiated from her was infectious.
"After the kind of emotional beating she took at the hands of the masses, she deserved to feel good about herself, even for a little while. ‘Rest well, Gypsy…and thank you for the laughter, merciless teasing, strength, vulnerability, love and friendship you showed me during our time together in the spotlight.”
McKibbin released her debut album, Unleashed, in 2007, followed by her Christmas record, American Christmas, in 2008. She also was known for being part of several rock bands, including Downside and Wicked Attraction.
She famously returned to American Idol in 2014 when her son, Tristen, who was 15 at the time, auditioned for the talent show.