‘American Idol’ winner Just Sam singing in NYC subways again

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Diaz won season 18 of “American Idol” but left Hollywood Records before she released any music.

In 2020, Samantha “Just Sam” Diaz was voted the winner of “American Idol.” However, she’s singing in New York City subways instead of touring the world on big stages.

Diaz, 24, was performing in New York City subway stations when she first auditioned for Season 18 of the show, according to People. While she went on to win the competition she was back to singing in the city terminal the next year.

In April, she began posting Instagram videos of herself singing at a Times Square train station, but admits that embarrassment was the reason she waited to tell people.

“Back in 2021, I was super embarrassed to be going back to the trains. 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,” Diaz said. “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.”

2022 FairVote Awards
Just Sam, center, performs during the “2022 FairVote Awards” on April 11, 2022 at City Winery in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for FairVote)

Diaz admits that she and her family knew little about the record industry. “We didn’t know what to do with the win especially being that we had absolutely no help,” Diaz said. “There are people who have had more success than me, and good for them. I’m happy for them, but I am not them.”

Diaz signed a record contract with Hollywood Records after winning “American Idol.” However, she left the label before releasing an album, putting her in debt. “I’m not even going to tell you guys the amount of money that I had to pay after leaving the label to claim songs that I had already recorded,” Diaz explained.

These days, Diaz continues to record music on her own. Although the expense of mixing and mastering the music have so far made releasing tracks cost-prohibitive, she insists that she’s not destitute.

“I invested in myself and ended up broke. That’s the truth. Not broke, broke – like I’m living. I have my own place.”

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