Nolan Neal, the Nashville musician who appeared as a contestant on both America’s Got Talent and The Voice, was found dead in his apartment Monday. The exact cause of Neal’s death currently remains uncertain.
Neal’s cousin Dylan Seals told PEOPLE that he “ultimately succumbed to his battle with substance abuse.” A cause of death has not been disclosed, but Neal often spoke candidly about his struggles with substance abuse and addictions.
The Nashville-based musician died on Monday, the local medical examiner’s office confirmed to TMZ. Seals also confirmed to the news outlet that the TV star was found dead in his apartment. The late musician’s cousin called him “one of the most talented people” he’s ever met while working in the entertainment industry.
“He was a natural-born entertainer and it was obvious to all of us from an early age. He blew us all away with his incredibly powerful vocal delivery and songwriting,” Seals, who is an audio engineer, said in a statement shared with PEOPLE. “Working with him in the studio was awe-inspiring. The speed at which he could write arrange and record the basics of a track was legendary. He was pure creative energy. He put everything he had in the music. He sang from deep within his soul. Upon reflection this morning, it was likely his tortured soul crying out. Music was life or death for him. It was everything.”
Seals added that he’s “saddened” to learn that Neal “ultimately succumbed to his battle with substance abuse. Neal first rose to recognition as a contestant in The Voice‘s 15th season, airing in 2016. His audition performance of the Incubus song “Drive” allowed him to nab a spot on Adam Levine’s team.
However, he was eventually eliminated from the competition. Nearly four years later, Neal went on to compete on America’s Got Talent in 2020. He auditioned with an original song called “Lost.” He was later eliminated in the Judges’ Choice section of the Quarterfinals.