On April 5, 2020, “American Idol” contestant Sophia Wackerman advanced to the top 20. (Note: Later in April, Sophia took on her brother James’ name as her last name and now goes by Sophia James.) As part of the show, they did a feature about Sophia’s relationship with her brother James, who has Fragile X syndrome. The show reached 8.05 million viewers.

“My brother James is my favorite person on this planet.”

— Sophia James

Check out the “American Idol” feature below with James, who got the chance to show off his amazing drumming skills. Speaking of playing the drums, did you know James played the drums at an NFXF International Fragile X Conference several years ago!?


The next day after the feature aired, Sophia posted her response to all the incoming reactions to her brother’s story. “Thank you to all who are sharing their stories about #FragileXSyndrome.”

UPDATE: We continued to follow Sophia, which ultimately led to her appearing as a keynote speaker at the 17th International NFXF Fragile X Conference in May!

Proudest Moment

May 10, 2020 — American Idol contestants have had to perform from home, and Billboard magazine asked the contestants about their proudest moment so far this season. Here’s what Sophia James had to say:

My proudest moment on the show was not music related at all — it was being able to bring my brother James on the show and bring light to Fragile X syndrome. It is quite a rare disability and doesn’t get much attention in the media, so to be able to bring awareness to it on a national platform was a monumental honor. There were so many families affected by Fragile X syndrome that reached out to me after that episode aired, shared their own stories of their loved ones and thanked me for bringing awareness to it. I felt so proud to be able to connect with these families and make them feel represented. Most of all, I was so proud to see my brother shine so bright on the show we grew up watching together.

—Sophia James

The Song She Would Have Sang

May 10–14, 2020 — While Sophia has a huge fan-base (including everyone here at NFXF!), she did not advance beyond the top 10. A few days later, Sophia posted a video of the song she would have sung if she’d made the top 10.

Thank you Sophia. Regardless of American Idol judges, you’ve made it into the hearts and minds of millions and we’ll all be seeing a lot of you as you rise and share your beautiful voice and message with the world.

Sophia at the Fragile X Conference!

May 29, 2020 — Sophia delivers the keynote address opening day, May 29, 2020, of the 17th NFXF International Fragile X Conference — Virtual Series.

Sophia James video still with play button