Samantha Diaz (stage name: Just Sam), a 21-year-old subway singer from Harlem, triumphed Sunday night in the Season 18 finale of “American Idol” on ABC.
Julia Gargano, a 21-year-old senior at the College of St. Rose, performed with the top 7 in a socially distant group performance of The Beatles’ “Come Together” but she did not make the top 5.
The Staten Island native received a lot of praise over the past several weeks from the judges for her performances of songs such as Pink’s “Glitter in the Air” and Adele’s “Sweetest Devotion.”
The finalists performed from their homes during the finale, and some confusion set in resulting from technical difficulties. When host Ryan Seacrest announced that Dibesh Pokharel (stage name: Arthur Gunn), a 22-year-old Nepalese singer-songwriter, had reached the top 5, his family appeared to celebrate as if he won the competition.
Eventually it was announced that Just Sam was the winner.
Rounding out the top five were piano teacher Jonny Webb, college student Francisco Martin and construction worker Dillon James. Each finalist performed two songs and viewers voted live for their favorites.