Just Sam is the name of the Liberian-Latina who made history lately by winning the first virtual American Idol contest. In the light of the “New Norm
Just Sam is the name of the Liberian-Latina who made history lately by winning the first virtual American Idol contest.
In the light of the “New Normal”, when shows, events and virtually every area of livelihood have gone virtual, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, American reality TV show, ‘American Idol’ produced its first virtual winner, Latino American Just Sam as the 18th winner of the show.
Commending her feat, Liberian president George Weah showered her with encomiums and made her a reference point for belief in one’s dreams and the resilience to achieve such.
“With hard work and dedication, we can achieve any dreams we set out for ourselves”- Liberian President George Weah, on compatriot Just Sam, who emerged American Idol’s first virtual winner.
“Just Sam has not only made the country proud, but that this presents another opportunity when we should unite in our love and admiration for one of our heroines; because no matter which nationality she bears, she remains Liberian in our hearts,” President Weah said.
“With hard work and dedication, we can achieve any dreams we set out for ourselves”. He added. Just Sam who now believes that dreams do come true began her journey on the show with an emotional rendition of Andra Day’s ‘Rise Up’
It was a keen battle for the prize in the final stages of the show, as Just Sam went boot for boot with Arthur Gunn, a Nepalese-American singer whose soulful rendition of Day’s Rise Up and a powerful delivery of Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You), together with his gritty rock vocals made him a favorite to win. Just Sam captivated the audience with her humble beginnings, vivacious personality, perseverance, and stellar vocal range.
Just Sam received the news of her win from the show’s host Ryan Seacrest, who broadcasted from his garage. Clutching an iPad, she shared the good news with her grandmother who according to her, has been a constant pillar of support in her life. Her mother was jailed when she was little and had to move from one foster home to the other till her Liberian grandmother Elizabeth adopted her at age six.
Speaking of her grandmother, Just Sam said, “She made sure we were fed, she made sure we had a roof over our head, she made sure we had clothes on our backs,” she told American Idol.
Just Sam who already knew what to do with the prize if she won it announced she was going to build a hospital in Liberia with the proceeds from her win, to honor her grandmother’s wish.
“Before I won, I asked her what she wanted me to do for her if I emerged as the Idol winner. All she requested was a hospital in Liberia, her homeland,. It is something I intend to do to fulfill her wish. I also want to appreciate everybody for their support but mostly, my Liberian people for the backing.”
She thanked America for making her dreams come true, saying, “My dreams have come true. Thank you so much, America, I would have never, ever, ever expected this. “Thank you, thank you, thank you for voting.”
“I wasn’t a girl, not a boy, but both. And I’m like, ‘Just Sam – it sounds perfect. I think I’m going to use that as my stage name forever.’”
Just Sam who relocated to LA for the live stage performances of the singing competition could not return to New York when the show began filming remotely due to lockdown and social distancing protocols as a result of the pandemic.
She was then torn between joining her grandmother who brought her up in Harlem or staying in quarantine alone in LA. For fears of endangering her grandmother she remained in LA.
The first ever virtual American Idol finale ended in a grand style with the 1985 charity anthem, We Are The World led by co-writer Lionel Richie and his fellow judges, Fantasia, Katharine McPhee, Jordin Sparks Scotty McCreery, and Ruben Studdard with Just Sam also joining the chorus.
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