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First She Prayed with American Idol Judges, Now 'Just Sam' Is the Winner, Singing Duets With Lauren Daigle

05-19-2020
Image source: ABC News
Image Credit: ABC News

After singing a moving duet with Grammy Award-winning Christian artist Lauren Daigle, Samantha Diaz was crowned the American Idol winner for season 18.

Daigle and Diaz virtually performed "You Say" together on Sunday, which the contestant admits had a powerful influence on her in recent years. 

"'You Say' seriously speaks to my heart and I feel like that's what brought me to tears at my audition," Diaz said. 

During her February audition, she was overcome with emotion and unable to perform until judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan offered some encouraging words - which allowed her to belt out Andra Day's "Rise Up."

During a candid testimony, the 21-year-old singer opened up about her past and being abandoned by her parents. 

Diaz, who goes by "Just Sam", was raised by her grandmother in Harlem, New York, and started singing in subways when she was a kid. 

"My grandmother had to adopt my sister and I. My mother wasn't there for me, growing up... neither was my father. My grandmother made sure we were fed, had a roof over our heads, and had clothes on our backs," Diaz explained.

She was alone at her Los Angeles apartment when she received the news that she had won. 

Diaz immediately called her grandmother who "just kept thanking the Lord," she said. "I was able to speak with my church family. We did a Zoom call and prayed and we thanked God and celebrated via Zoom together."

The young artist serves as a symbol of strength and hopes to inspire and encourage other performers.

"I hope to inspire all the little girls who believe their dreams can't come true," the former subway singer said. "Anyone can do it." 

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