Tears were a-plenty during the first night of auditions on ABC’s American Idol, but no contestant affected judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie the way subway singer Just Sam did.
In the promotional package about the 20-year-old aspiring singer from Harlem, viewers learned that Samantha Diaz, who goes by the stage name “Just Sam,” had been adopted along with her sister and raised by their grandmother. Her source of income was singing in the New York subways where she raised enough money to supply the family with their basic needs. Auditioning for Idol was a dream come true for the young singer and a way to change her life.
The young woman entered the soundstage where Katy, Lionel and Luke waited, it was obvious she was nervous and as she began to sing Lauren Daigle’s “You Say,” her voice began to break. She asked to start again, but the tears were inevitable and as they spilled out, the judges rushed to the floor to support her with Luke telling Sam, “Listen, we feel that you’re gonna be amazing, we can tell you’re going to be amazing.” After returning to their chairs, Katy said, “Sam, you are safe. So, you sing us a little bit of one other and you bring it home, OK.”
[RELATED: Garbage Man Doug Kiker Wins Over All Three Judges During Emotional American Idol Audition]
Sam then found her comfort zone in delivering her subway routine before effortlessly delivering a bit of Andra Day’s “Rise Up.”
“This is really, really important, what you have, in my opinion,” Luke told her. “A lot of people come in here and they haven’t lived the struggles you have. You have those qualities in your voice to tell stories and you can sing really beautifully, too.”
Katy added, “I love your sweet personality. You do have a really good voice. Remember where you came from and sing to where you want to go.”Lionel then asked her, “In your whole life, have you ever felt safe?” Sam replied, “I feel safe when my grandmother hugs me.”
Before she left, golden ticket in hand, the young performer asked to pray with the coaches.
Hers will be a journey to watch!