EDITOR’S NOTE (Sunday, 9:30 p.m.): Just Sam was just declared the 2020 American Idol season’s champion after getting the most real-time votes during Sunday night’s finale. During the evening, Just Sam performed several times, with songs hits “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by Kelly Clarkson and”Rise Up” by Andra Day. She also sang Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” with the Grammy-winning artist herself and performed “We Are the World” with Lionel Richie, Ruben Studdard, and Katherine McPhee. Her rendition of Andra Day’s 2015 R&B song “Rise Up,” will be released as a single today
A New York subway singer with Liberian roots who lives in West Hollywood? That would be “Just Sam” (aka Samantha Diaz), who will be in the “Top 7” of singers in Sunday night’s “American Idol.”
Sunday night’s 8 p.m. show will be the first remotely produced finale in American Idol’s 18-season history. The two-hour broadcast will begin with the revealing of the vote reducing the field to five.
The Top 5 will each then perform two songs. The first will celebrate their induction into the Top 5, and the second will be a previously performed song and their new “American Idol” single. The winner will be determined by a vote of viewers of the live East Coast broadcast.
Just Sam, 21, moved to West Hollywood from New York City’s Harlem. A profile of her in Front Page Africa says she grew up in the projects and had to endure a rugged life. “Her mother spent time in jail when she was young but that did not deter her from pursuing her dreams.” Diaz and her sister were adopted by their grandmother and lived with her in the Frederick Douglass Houses in Harlem.
And where did “Just Sam” come from? Diaz says she adopted that nickname because many saw her as tomboy growing up. “In high school, they didn’t know which category to put me in. I wasn’t a girl, not a boy, but both. And I’m like ‘Just Sam.’ You can’t tell them anything else.”
In the profile, Diaz said she had been singing in the subway since middle school to cover her bills and pay her rent. In a great leap forward, she won the votes of judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie in her first audition for American Idol.
Sunday’s episode will also include Richie, Perry and Bryan joining such past American Idol contestants as Katharine McPhee, Jordin Sparks, Kellie Pickler, Ruben Studdard, and Scotty McCreery in the first television performance of “We Are The World” in 35 years.
Richie joined Michael Jackson in writing the 1985 charity single for African famine relief.
Perry will perform her new single “Daisies” in its television debut. Bryan will perform his new single “One Margarita.”
The country band Rascal Flats will be joined by Doug Kiker, a garbage collector from Alabama who was eliminated during the Hollywood Round, in singing “Bless The Broken Road.”
The Grammy-winning contemporary Christian singer Lauren Daigle and the Top 5 will perform her three-time platinum song, “You Say.”
Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo and the Top 11 will perform a medley of Aretha Franklin songs.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re a fan of Just Sam, you can support her with your vote for the American Idol award. Just text her number (19) on your phone to “21523.” You can make up to 10 votes. You also can go to www.americanidol.com when the show airs at 8 p.m. PDT, create an account, look for Just Sam’s picture, and add it 10 times.