Season 18 American Idol Winner Just Sam captivated viewers with her stunning voice and incredible personal journey to Hollywood last year. Now, in an exclusive interview, she’s giving us an update on her life after winning the show and what she really thinks about this season’s newest twist.
What’s New With Sam? We Catch Up with the Season 18 ‘Idol’ Winner in an Exclusive Interview
Since winning American Idol, Sam signed with Hollywood Records/Industrial Media’s 19 Recordings and released her first solo single, Africando, in March. However, we are the first to know that she is no longer with the label, but feels “grateful for everything.”
Things have been a bit of an adjustment for her as she is currently living in Los Angeles after living in New York her entire life. She also now has to pay for a lot of her projects and work out of her own pocket since splitting from the label, an added challenge.
The young winner does have some music in the works that she says will take time. She originally wanted to release the music once she won the show.
She’s also currently in a relationship with another musician who is “incredibly talented.” She is hoping to convince her to try out for American Idol in the future.
Did ‘American Idol’ Hide Sam’s Identity?
Sam has been pretty open about belonging to the LGBTQ community in social media posts. This was a part of her life that was not featured on the show. She does think that an openly LGBTQ person can win the show since it is a talent competition and not about who you love.
“I am a child of God first,” she said. “My grandmother, my family they are tied for first with God. American Idol understood that about me. I am family-oriented, I sing on trains, I was going to church every single day. I found something to do with my church every day. Because they understood that about me, that was the story they were trying to portray.”
Sam said she thought that if producers tried to weave anything else about her life into her storyline, it wouldn’t have worked. She also spoke on her evolving looks throughout the show and how it was a reflection of a spiritual awakening she had about her identity.
“I was done with skirts, dresses, anything that made me feel feminine I was done with it,” Sam said. “I was convinced that I wanted to be a man.”
After her baptism, Sam says she was in Harlem and had a vision from God showing her wearing a dress with long body wave curls in her hair. A week after the vision she started wearing tighter clothing.
“My intentions were not to hide who I am because that’s not who I am,” she added. “Even when I know something could get me into trouble I have to speak my mind because I am the person who will stay up all night until I get it off my chest.”
Just Sam Gives Honest Opinions About ‘American Idol’ Comeback Twist
The former subway singer gave us her honest opinions about the American Idol comeback. Last week, 10 Season 18 contestants performed for a chance to earn their way back onto the show. Only one of them will make it into the Season 19 Top 10.
“Juicy it was definitely juicy,” Sam told us about this twist. “I’ve always felt like American idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, those shows they have a way of spicing things up just bringing back Arthur Gunn, Faith Becnel, and Cyniah. That’s juicy. That’s really great stuff right there. That’s great for television.”
She was not expecting The Comeback twist to happen this season but thinks there is one frontrunner who may have an edge in the voting and will win the show.
“Arthur Gunn, not because of anything personal, but because of how it went last year,” she said. “We were neck and neck. If he made it to the Top two then he still has his Top two fans.”
Will She Be Returning To The Stage On Season 19?
Unfortunately, we will not be seeing Sam return to the American Idol stage to deliver a performance this season.
“Sadly no because honestly speaking I had my time,” the 22-year-old admitted. “I literally came onto the show just trying. I just wanted my grandmother to see me on tv. I just wanted to pray with the judges like there were little things that I wanted and I didn’t expect to win.”
Many fans wonder why Sam hasn’t been mentioned this season. She will not perform this season as many former winners have in the past. Season 18 of American Idol went virtual amid the COVID-19 pandemic, so Sam never got the chance to perform on the Hollywood stage during the live shows.
“To this day I don’t know how I won,” she added. “Last year was my year. I don’t think that I need another year. This is their time. Although we all didn’t have an opportunity to perform on the stage, they didn’t win, these are my friends.”
The Season 18 contestants still keep in touch and have been texting each other as they are all excited to see the results of The Comeback. She even thinks that whoever wins The Comeback will go on to win the show this season.
Just Sam Thinks Back to Her Time on ‘Idol’
“To be honest my ‘Idol’ experience was so much better than I imagined it to be,” Sam said through tears. “There were a lot of things that happened that were not aired. There’s a lot of things that the executive producers did for me and the other idols that they did not have to do.”
She praised the producers for their generosity and always making sure the contestants had everything they needed throughout the experience.
“It wasn’t anything like I imagined it. It was better,” she said. “I told everyone on the show I didn’t have people care for me like that. I’m from the hood.”
Sam also spoke about her PTSD diagnosis and undergoing treatment a couple of months before American Idol. It was a part of her life that the show never aired. She went to therapy from an early age due to her mother being in jail when she was a baby. Two years after she graduated high school she was diagnosed.
Sam receievd a lot fo support while she was on the show especially from the judges. She struck up a great bond with judge Lionel Richie.
“Lionel definitely reaches out,” she said. “He sent me a gift for my birthday. To have people like them in my life…” she trailed off.
While we wait for Sam to release some more tunes, we’ll have Africando on repeat. The personal lyrics in the song, meant to honor her grandmother, hit us right in the feels. Listeners can’t help but move to the beat of this joyous African-Caribbean tune.
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