When Samantha Diaz walked into the room, she was overwhelmed.
Not everyone gets the opportunity to sing on national TV and it was a lot for her to take in.
But little did she know that this audition would allow her to share her faith!
And here’s the video:
As a child, Diaz (whose stage name is “Just Sam”) never imagined that she’d have the chance to audition for American Idol.
Diaz and her sister were raised by their grandmother in Harlem, New York after their parents abandoned them.
“My grandmother had to adopt my sister and I,” Diaz admitted. “My mother wasn’t there for me, growing up…neither was my father. My grandmother made sure we were fed, had a roof over our heads and had clothes on our backs.”
“I feel safe when my grandma hugs me,” she continued. “I’m not used to people caring without needing something or just pretending to care.”
Diaz’s grandmother, Elizabeth, never gave up on her granddaughters, and she always encouraged Diaz in particular to pursue her natural talents in music and singing.
Diaz began to sing in the New York City subways when she was a child, collecting tips after her impromptu performances for passersby. Now twenty years old, she decided to audition for American Idol as a way of honoring her grandmother’s loving sacrifices.
“I just want to give her back everything that she gave me,” Diaz said.
Elizabeth, who was thrilled by this opportunity for her granddaughter, gave Diaz three pieces of advice for the audition: “Believe in yourself. Believe in God. And learn to forgive people.”
Diaz originally chose “You Say,” a song by Christian recording artist Lauren Daigle, as her audition piece. However, once she stepped into the room, she was overwhelmed by her emotions and by the opportunity she had.
After a few attempts to start singing, Diaz realized that she couldn’t sing the way she wanted to. Overcome by emotion, she stopped singing, and that’s when the judges stepped in.
Even though the celebrity judges — Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan — didn’t know Diaz and had hardly heard her sing yet, they offered her strong words of encouragement and waited for her to collect herself.
Diaz eventually decided to simply sing as she does on the subway. Her impromptu performance of “Rise Up,” by Andra Day, stunned the judges.
“A lot of people come in here, and they haven’t lived the struggles you have,” said Luke Bryan, one of the judges. He noted that Diaz could tell powerful, emotional stories through the quality of her voice.
Diaz’s struggles during her younger years have shaped her into a powerful singer and musician, one who proclaims joys and victories through her incredible voice.
The other judges encouraged her to keep singing, no matter what the outcome of American Idol was.
“I’m so grateful that God put you in front of us,” said Lionel Richie.
Rather than take the credit for her voice and her singing talent, Diaz immediately asked the table of judges, “Can I pray with you guys, is that okay?”
Amazed, the judges responded, “Yes!”
Diaz then led the judges in a fervent prayer, giving God the glory for her talent, the opportunity to audition, and the outcome of the situation.
“Heavenly Father,” she began, “Lord, make my life brand new right here, right now, with my friends and with my new fam.”
The three judges echoed her prayer for transformation.
Diaz concluded, “Amen. Thank you, Jesus!”
Her bold witness touched the judges’ hearts, and Diaz walked out of the audition with a golden ticket that would advance her in the competition!
“I still feel like I’m dreaming,” she admitted. “[But] this isn’t a dream!”
Diaz is excited to continue singing, but she’s also grateful for the audition experience itself and the opportunity to give glory to God and make her grandmother proud.
“I wish that I had the words to say right now, but I just don’t,” Diaz said. “I’m currently filled with so much gratitude, joy, and so much peace. Everything happens for a reason.”
Praise God for Diaz’s bold prayer with the judges and keep watch for her unfolding career! This young woman has the potential to do great things for God’s glory.
Watch her appearance on American Idol yourself here: