American Idol Contestant ‘Just Sam’ Asks Judges to Pray with Her After Tearful Audition

If you’ve watched American Idol, then you know that an audition is never just an audition. Anything can happen, from the wacky to the heartbreaking to the jaw-dropping. But judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan still weren’t prepared for Samantha Diaz.

Diaz, or ‘Just Sam’ as she likes to be called, is a singer from Harlam, New York. As she told the judges, “I was adopted by my grandmother, and I grew up in the projects. Life was hard, but I got through 100% of my worst days.” The 20-year-old, who sings in the subway to help support herself and her grandmother, seemed confident and excited.

She took a moment to calm herself, and then began “You Say” by Lauren Daigle. But only two lines in, Diaz was overcome with emotion. She started over, but couldn’t make it through the line “Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up.” The music stopped and the judges looked on as Diaz covered her face and cried.

“Come over here,” Bryan said, beckoning for her to join them at the judge’s table.

Diaz walked over and Richie stood up, embracing her in a hug.

“We believe in you,” he told her.

After words of encouragement from the judges, Diaz returned to her place in the center of the room, wearing a smile. She started singing again, but this time, she sang “Rise Up” by Andra Day.

All three judges sat stunned until she finished. 

Bryan was the first to speak: “This is really really important what you have, in my opinion. 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 sing beautifully, too.”


Perry reminded her to “Remember where you came from, and sing to where you want to go.”


And Richie told her to “Forget about winning. You’ve already won. I’m so grateful that God put you in front of us.”

Diaz became emotional again, thanking the judges for listening. Then, before she even knew whether she had made it to the next round or not, Diaz asked, “Can I pray with you guys?”

The judges joined hands with Diaz as she offered a simple prayer, “Heavenly Father, Lord make my life brand new right here, right now, with my friends and my new fam, Amen.”

Diaz did make it on to the next round, but win or lose, she remains confident in the fact that “I know that at this point in my life, I’ve already made my grandmother proud.” Her grandmother, who is a firm believer in Christ despite the ups and downs of her own life, gave Diaz this vital advice before the auditions: “Believe in yourself. Believe in God. And learn to forgive people.”

Watch the entire audition and interview.