Talent Recap

‘Idol’ Winner Just Sam Returns to Subway Singing as Fans Rush to Show Support

Just Sam American IdolInstagram/ ABC

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Season 18 American Idol winner Just Sam has returned to her roots. The singer, Samantha Diaz, recently posted a series of videos singing on the subway. The New York native was a full-time subway singer before captivating viewers on the show last year. She clarified in the comments section that the videos were taken both before and after her time on the show.

‘American Idol’ Winner Just Sam Posts Videos Singing on the Subway

Sam began singing on the subway in middle school and realized she could earn some serious cash by doing so. She described being underground as “beautiful” and danced with her fellow underground performers during her American Idol interview package. Before stepping in front of the American Idol judges, viewers got to see Sam interact with her grandmother at their apartment in the Frederick Douglass projects.

She opened up about how subway singing helped her pay her bills, rent, and put food on the table. She broke down in a very vulnerable moment with the judges during her audition. Sam was the only contestant who remained in Los Angeles when American Idol was forced to go virtual due to the pandemic last year. Even after winning the show and moving to Los Angeles, she has not forgotten where her journey all began.

Sam captioned her train singing post with #SamUnderground on July 30. In the first video, she sings Adele’s “Someone Like You” and thanks everyone who comes up to give her money. In a couple of the videos, Sam is joined by another singer. They’ve performed duets of Alicia Key’s “Girl on Fire” and Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” on the train.

Sam Cleared Up Confusion About When the Videos Were Recorded

Many fans showed their love for Sam on this Instagram post and asked her when her first concert tour will be. One fan who has seen Sam perform underground a few times said she is “absolutely amazing.” Another fan suggested that “Underground” should be the name of Sam’s debut album.

By far, the most popular question floating around the comments section is whether or not these videos were taken before or after she won American Idol. A few people assumed that because subway-goers are not wearing masks in the videos means it must have been pre-idol.


Sam recently posed for pictures with her grandmother before taking a trip to Hawaii. Back in August 2020, Sam posted a throwback video of one of her American Idol submissions. She stood in the train station singing “I Can’t Keep Up With You,” by Arlissa.

“I knew that I would miss the trains .. but I didn’t expect to miss it as much as I do,” she confessed.

She is No Longer with Hollywood Records

After winning American Idol, Sam signed with Hollywood Records/Industrial Media’s 19 Recordings and released her first solo single, “Africando,” in March. However, she revealed in an interview with Talent Recap that she is no longer with the label. She said that she feels “grateful for everything” and maintains that there is “no bad blood” between her and the label.

Sam did tease that she has some new music in the works that will take time to be released. She originally wanted to release the music once she won the show. But because it didn’t work out with the label, her plans have changed a bit.

Sam also touched on having to pay for a lot of her projects and work out of her own pocket since splitting from the label, an added challenge. It is not clear if she is still living in Los Angeles or has returned to New York full time. One thing that is certain is how many fans she has on her side that have been with her throughout her American Idol journey and beyond.


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