The Truth About American Idol's Sophia Wackerman's New Name

What do famous artists like Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Tina Turner all have in common? Well, they changed their names before becoming famous, of course. 

Perhaps that's why American Idol contestant Sophia Wackerman considered changing her name — and ultimately did. The UCLA student, who's the daughter of drummer Chad Wackerman and late singer Naomi Star, wowed judges including Katy Perry with her powerful vocals on the show. 

But Perry, while impressed, wasn't having it with Sophia's last name. "Listen, I love all the Wackermans," Perry insisted, according to the Daily Mail. "I love all the Wackermans that are here, but every time I see 'Wackerman, I cross it off." She told the budding singer to consider something with a little more oomph, like Sophia Star, after her mother. 

In a later episode after Sophia delivered an impressive cover of Nick Jonas' "Levels," Perry reminded her again, per The Daily Mail's report in mid-April 2020: "It's never too late to change your name!" But as it turns out, Sophia won't be going with the American Idol judge and fellow artist's suggestion. 

How Sophia James came to be

Instead of listening to Katy Perry, Sophia Wackerman said she's adopting a different moniker altogether: Sophia James. And she declined Perry's suggestions for a very personal reason. 

"Although the name 'Sophia Star' was a great suggestion, it just isn't me. 'Naomi Star' was a beautiful name for my mum," the American Idol contestant said on Instagram, alongside a photo of herself. "I've thought long and hard about the name 'Sophia Star' and how I could make it work. All the while, my mum's voice has been ringing in my head saying 'stay true to yourself.'"

Instead, she wanted to stick with something closer to the Wackermans' identity, so she went with "James," after her brother, James Wackerman. "He is the person that reminds me most of all that is good in the world," she explained. "I've attached his name onto my own as an homage to him and to all the things that remind me that life is beautiful." 

Previously, Sophia revealed that her brother was born with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder marked by developmental and learning delays, along with social and behavioral issues.

Turns out that the name change was always in Sophia's plans, anyway. As she wrote, "I've always had my own personal reservations about my last name and always thought that I'd end up changing it one day. I've considered other names, but none of them ever felt quite right." That is, until now.