Just Sam (Samantha Diaz) is officially 2020’s “American Idol” winner. The 21-year-old Harlem native was crowned during the virtual season finale on ABC Sunday, May 17.
Local favorite Jonny West from Murrieta, who was the last Southern California performer, made it to the Top 5.
Due to the spread of novel coronavirus, “American Idol” fans were given a strange, shortened season. The show pivoted to remote performances from contestants and at-home judging from Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. Fans cast their votes virtually for this season — the 18th season overall, but the third on ABC.
Previously, the Top 7 finalists had performed songs from their favorite songs from Disney films and delivered performances that paid tribute to their moms on Mother’s Day, before heading into this week’s finale.
Along with West, the remaining contestants included Just Sam, along with 22-year-old runner-up Arthur Gunn (formerly Dibesh Pokharel) originally from Nepal and now residing in Kansas; 26-year-old Bakersfield, Calif. singer-songwriter Dillon James; Louis Knight, 19, from Philadelphia, Penn.; Francisco Martin, 18, from San Francisco, Calif.; and Julia Gargano, 21 from Staten Island.
It quickly went from seven contestants to five, as Knight and Gargano were immediately eliminated. The final five were granted the opportunity to perform one last time before the voting closed. James did a soulful, twangy rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” and the cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing” that Perry noted sounded “more confident” than when he first sang it in Hawaii on the show. Martin delivered a sassy version of Harry Styles’ “Adore You” and revisited his take on “Alaska” by Maggie Rogers as fans in masks cheered him on from a balcony.