Season 18 Winner Returning to ‘American Idol’ Stage for Special Top 10 Performance

Born in Harlem, New York, Samantha Diaz, who goes by the name Just Sam, struggled throughout their childhood as their mother found herself incarcerated. Often bullied at school for their appearance, Just Sam eventually shared their love for music when they performed on Subway trains. Audition for both America’s Got Talent and The Voice, the singer consistently found rejection. That was until American Idol. Auditioning for the show, Just Sam not only dazzled on stage but won. Four years after winning, it appears the singer will return to American Idol as a guest performer. 

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Sharing the news on Instagram, American Idol posted a picture of Just Same, revealing they would be performing on the show Sunday night. Gaining thousands of likes, fans loved the idea of bringing the winner back to American Idol. “Looking forward to seeing her! She deserves this! She didn’t have a fair shot in 2020.” Another comment read, “I’m so happy to see you embrace Just Sam! Their situation after Idol was so sad.” And one person added, “Big Congratulations!! You deserve this and so much more. Look at God, he heard your WAR CRY‼️”

[RELATED: Katy Perry Opens up on ‘American Idol’ Exit and What She’s Learned Along the Journey]

Just Sam Struggled To Make Ends Meet After ‘American Idol’

While winners like Kelly Clarkson went on to shine in the spotlight, Just Sam found theirself struggling to make ends meet. Having a past when it comes to performing in the subway, the singer decided to once again return to that life. Sharing an update with fans in a now-deleted post, they said, “Back in 2021, I was super embarrassed to be going back to the trains.” Just Sam continued, “I didn’t want people to know that I legit needed the money & I didn’t want people to know that it wasn’t optional.”

Sharing another update about their life after American Idol, Just Sam explained, “I was disappointed in myself for allowing myself to fall so low after winning ‘Idol,’ but then I had to take it easy on me and remember that I started my journey with ‘Idol’ at 20 years old. Not even knowing anything about Hollywood or the music industry.”

As for what the future holds for the star, Just Sam hinted at new music. “I am making music. I just cannot afford to release music, because mixing and mastering music costs a lot of money. And I invested in myself and ended up broke. That’s the truth. Not broke, broke ― like I’m living. I have my own place.”

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for FairVote)

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