July 31, 2020 — We’ve released Sophia’s keynote address for everyone, it’s truly worth your time. Listen to or read the transcript, all available here.

The National Fragile X Foundation is thrilled to announce that Sophia James (formerly Wackerman — she recently announced she has taken on her brother James’ name as her last name), will be a keynote speaker on day one — May 29, 2020 — of our upcoming 17th NFXF International Fragile X Conference — Virtual Series.

The conference had previously been scheduled for July in Orlando, Florida, but was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. NFXF quickly rallied and moved forward with the new Virtual Series with dates in May, June, and July.

The May 29–30 Virtual Series is titled Fragile X Syndrome Across the Lifespan, and will feature renowned Fragile X experts across several fields of study who will present and discuss education, behavior, transitions, medical and emotional challenges, identity, reproductive decision-making — and so much more — for individuals and their families living with Fragile X.

Sophia James is a member of a family living with Fragile X. The Wackerman’s include Sophia, her father, drummer Chad Wackerman, her late mother, singer Naomi Star, and brother James Wackerman, who has Fragile X syndrome.

She’s also a top-10 American Idol finalist.

Sophia, James & American Idol

When American Idol aired earlier this year (just prior to COVID-19 forcing contestants to continue the competition from their homes), Sophia introduced her brother James Wackerman to 8.05 million viewers in a special feature on April 5, the same night she was named as a top 20 finalist. In an Instagram post the afternoon before the episode aired, Sophia publicized that evening’s show and talked about her and her brother’s special bond, saying:

Meet James Wackerman.

James is my brother, my number one supporter, and the light of my life.

James has Fragile X syndrome, an intellectual disability that causes behavioral, social, and learning challenges. It’s just a part of who he is and I love him unconditionally.

James faces more challenges than the average person because of his disability, but he never fails to put a smile on everyone’s face. Anyone who’s ever met him knows how he radiates any room he walks into. He is kind, loving, and has an infectious sense of humor. He highlights the little things in life in a way that no one else can.

I’m so lucky to have had James by my side not only during American Idol, but throughout my whole life. He makes the world a beautiful place to be.

Catch us BOTH tonight on @americanidol!🧡

She later moved on to the top 10, and it’s clear from her amazing voice and talent that we’ll all be hearing a lot more from Sophia. She’s also a songwriter, pianist and a global jazz studies major at UCLA, and describes her music as a mix of rock, soul, pop, and fusion. (If you haven’t heard her sing, check out her single “Stop Your Lying”, on Spotify, her cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” on YouTube, and “Will The Sun Ever Shine Again” on Instagram.)

Please join us May 29 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time for a very special keynote address with Sophia James.


17th NFXF International Fragile X Conference — Virtual Series
Learn more and register for our upcoming virtual conference taking place May 29–30, Fragile X Syndrome Across the Lifespan;  June 27, Premutation Carrier Issues; and July 22, Fragile X Research Roundup.

American Idol’s Sophia James Introduces Her Brother James — Who Has FXS — to 8 Million Viewers
American Idol contestant Sophia James (formerly Wackerman) introduces her brother James, who has Fragile X syndrome, to more than 8 million viewers. Sophia took to social media to help spread awareness and advocate for Fragile X.