American Idol judges weren’t sure what to expect when Samantha Diaz, better known as Just Sam, took the audition stage. After somewhat of a rocky start, Just Sam wowed the judges with her voice and earned a spot in the next round. Sam’s voice may be what helped her advance in the competition, but her story is what capture judges’ and viewers’ hearts. Every season of American Idol has a handful of contestants that we all want to know more about. This year, Just Sam is one of them. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Just Sam.
1. She Was The Subject Of A Documentary
In 2018, Just Sam was the subject of a documentary titled Sam, Underground. Filmmakers, Joe Penney and Ladan Osmon followed Just Sam’s life as a subway performer in New York City. The documentary allowed viewers to see some of the struggles Sam faces as well as the pride that comes with being able to stand out as a talented singer in such a busy and competitive city.
2. She’s Been Singing On Subways Since Middle School
Just Sam is only 20-years-old, but she’s definitely not new to the game. Before auditioning for American Idol, she spent her days singing on subways throughout New York City. This is something she’s done since she was just a middle schooler. In the documentary, Sam, Underground, Just Sam revealed that singing on the trains saved her life.
3. She Used To Sing Outside Of Her Mother’s Job
Just Sam has a very rough upbringing which resulted in a complicated relationship with her mother. Sam hoped to use her singing talent as a way to reconnect with her mother. She used to stand outside of her mother’s job in an effort to get her attention. Sam’s performance of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Mother Child” represented this time in her life and the strain on her and her mother’s relationship.
4. She Knew She Her Voice Would Get Her On TV
Just Sam has always had dreams of making it big in the singing world. She even predicted that her voice would one day earn her TV fame. In an Instagram post dedicated to her grandmother back in 2018, Just Sam says that she knew her time was coming and that some day soon she would be singing on TV and making her grandmother proud.
5. Her Grandmother Is Her Favorite Person
Just Sam considers her grandmother to be the main maternal figure in her life. Her grandmother adopted her and raised her after her mother decided she could no longer care for her. Despite having to obstacles during her childhood, Just Sam is grateful for everything her grandmother has done for her.
6. She’s Hung Out With The Cast Of Law and Order: SVU
Law and Order: SVU has been on for so long, I think it’s safe to say that everyone is a fan in some capacity. However, in addition to being a fan of the show, Just Sam has gotten to spend some time with a few of its cast members. Episodes of the show are often filmed in Sam’s neighborhood so she’s been able to get a behind the scenes peak.
7. She Is A Spiritual Person
Sam has kept her faith at the forefront of her life even though she’s had plenty of moments that could have made her feel doubts. She is a very spiritual person and even took a few seconds to pray after finding out she would be moving to the next stage of the American Idol process.
8. She’s Part Of The LGBT Community
Just Sam is a proud member of the LGBT community which she displays with a rainbow emoji in her Instagram bio. She has also performed at some LGBT friendly venues. Although she hasn’t spoken much about this yet on American Idol, she may share more about her personal life as more of her story unfolds.
9. She Was A Foster Kid
Before being officially adopted by her grandmother, Just Sam was placed in the foster care system in New York City. Just Sam has had to overcome a lot of challenges in her past, but she isn’t ashamed of any of them.
10. She’s Had Some Health Issues
On top of everything else she’s had to deal with, Just Sam has also suffered from some serious health issues. It’s not entirely clear what those health issues were, but Idol Chatter reported that Just Sam once had to undergo stomach surgery. Fortunately, it looks like she’s in a much better place now.