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Jennifer Hudson Says She's 'Heartbroken' Over Death of “American Idol” Voice Coach Debra Byrd at 72

Byrd reportedly died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, with no cause of death given

<p>Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic</p> Debra Byrd arrives at American Idol Season 10

Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Debra Byrd arrives at American Idol Season 10

Jennifer Hudson is mourning the death of American Idol voice coach Debra Byrd at the age of 72.

Deadline reported that Byrd died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, with no cause of death or location given.

The voice coach worked on American Idol for ten seasons and also served as a coach on shows such as The Voice, Canadian Idol, Military Idol, as well as Majors and Minors.

She also helped coach singers including Kelly Clarkson and Barry Manilow alongside Hudson, whom she recommended for the role of Effie White in the 2006 film Dreamgirls, according to U.K. newspaper The Independent

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<p>Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images</p> Simon Cowell (L) and Debra Byrd (R)

Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images

Simon Cowell (L) and Debra Byrd (R)

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“Heartbroken over the passing of Debra Byrd, the vocal coach on American Idol,” Hudson, 42, wrote in an Instagram post dedicated to Byrd on Wednesday. “She encouraged and supported us from the very beginning!”

“I am so grateful for everything she taught us,” the singer added. “ She will be dearly missed, but her legacy lives on through the music of countless artists she influenced during her lifetime. Rest in peace, Debra.”

Hudson’s also included a headshot photo of the Byrd alongside a throwback video of the pair on American Idol, with Byrd telling Hudson that she “had to get rid of the gospel jaw.”

“Your homework is to stand in that mirror, I want you to physically hold your jaw,” Byrd said in the clip. 

A final photo then featured Byrd and Hudson standing by a piano that was being played by Elton John.

<p>Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images</p> Debra Byrd at American Idol Live in March 2003

Michel Boutefeu/Getty Images

Debra Byrd at American Idol Live in March 2003

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Manilow, 80, also penned a tribute on X (formerly known as Twitter) by sharing a throwback picture of the two.

“This is one of the saddest days of my life,” the singer wrote. “I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that Debra is no longer with me. She was one of the most wonderful friends I’ve ever had.”

“I will miss you forever, my love. -Barry Manilow,” he concluded.

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