Former New York City subway singer Just Sam, born Samantha Diaz, has been crowned the winner of American Idol 2020. Because she’s been living alone in L.A., she got the news while standing in an empty apartment, but she’s since been inundated with well-wishes.
“It’s been super-great. I am so grateful for the support and the love,” she tells ABC Audio. “It’s definitely new, but it’s amazing.”
Sam felt that for one brief moment in Hawaii, after she performed a Selena song, she might be able to win, but, she admits, “I never had that thought again…I did not expect to win, no.”
But win she did, amid extremely strange circumstances: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all the contestants had to perform remotely from their homes, doing their own camera setups, lighting, hair and makeup. And as the only contestant who was living alone, Sam had to do all of it herself.
“I don’t think that this helped any of us,” she admits. “Because there’s just something about being on a stage that sends a rush through our body and it fuels our performance. And because we didn’t have the stage, we…didn’t get the fuel we needed…I mean, of course, we’ve done our best, but I feel like the stage would have brought out so much more in all of us.”
Having released her debut single, a cover of Andra Day‘s “Rise Up,” Sam’s now ready for the next step: Her debut album.
“I would like to, because of what’s going on in this world, make music like Andra Day…and Lauren Daigle and even ‘We Are the World,'” she shares. “Y’know, music that can send a message…and spread love and joy and peace and unity during this time.”