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Samantha Diaz (born November 23, 1998),[1] known professionally as Just Sam,[1] was a contestant on Season 18 of American Idol.

Audition[]

Sam auditioned in Washington D.C. They started to sing "You Say" by Lauren Daigle but stopped almost immediately because of her nerves. Afterwards, they sang "Rise Up" by Andra Day. All three judges voted "yes", sending them to the next round.

Hollywood Round[]

Sam was shown in the "R&B" category for the "Genre Challenge", alongside Cyniah Elise, Makayla Phillips, and Jordan Jones. They sang "Hearts Ain't Gonna Lie" by Arlissa. Afterwards, the judges revealed they had advanced. They were later shown in a duet with Sheniel Maisonet called "Short Fuze", singing "Mercy" by Shawn Mendes. Both members of the duet advanced. For their final Solo performance, they sang "I'm Here" by Cynthia Erivo. They were later placed in the same deliberation room as Shannon Gibbons, Jeb Vonderbruegge, Jovin Webb, Nick Merico, Robert Taylor, Geena, Bilaal Avaz, Dillon James, Aliana Jester, Demi Rae, and Louis Knight, where the judges revealed that everyone had advanced.

Hawaii Round[]

Sam sang "Como La Flor" by Selena entirely in Spanish. Afterwards, during the Final Judgment, the judges told them that they did enough to become a Top 20 semifinalist.

This Is Me[]

Top 20[]

She sang "I Believe" by Fantasia. They received enough votes to become a Top 11 finalist.

Top 11[]

Sam sang "Grandma's Hands" by Bill Withers. They received enough votes to become a Top 7 finalist.

Top 7[]

Sam sang "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" by Ilene Woods from Cinderella and "I Turn to You" by Christina Aguilera.

Season 18 Finale[]

Sam sang "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" by Kelly Clarkson and "Rise Up" by Andra Day. Sam received more votes than Arthur Gunn, making them the American Idol.

Performances[]

Round Song Choice Original Artist Theme (if any) Result
Auditions "You Say"

"Rise Up"

Lauren Daigle
Andra Day
None Safe
Hollywood Week "Hearts Ain't Gonna Lie" Arlissa Hollywood Round 1 Safe
Hollywood Week "Mercy" Shawn Mendes Hollywood Round 2 Safe
Hollywood Week "I'm Here" Cynthia Erivo Hollywood Round 3 Safe
Hawaii Round "Como La Flor" Selena Showcase Round Advanced
Top 20 "I Believe" Fantasia Homeward Bound Advanced
Top 11 "Grandma's Hands" Bill Withers Homeward Bound Advanced
Top 7 "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes"

"I Turn to You"

Ilene Woods

Christina Aguilera

Disney Night

Mother's Day

Advanced
Top 5 "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)"
"Rise Up"
Kelly Clarkson
Andra Day
Grand Finale Won

Trivia[]

  • The graphic during her audition incorrectly stated their age was 20, when it was really 21.
  • Sam sang on the subways of New York prior to auditioning for American Idol.
  • Sam is the first American Idol winner to use a stage name.
  • Sam is the first openly LGBTQ+ (non-binary) contestant to win as well, and uses they/them pronouns.

Gallery[]

Click here for an image gallery of this contestant.

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