Iam Tongi Wins Season 21 Of ‘American Idol,’ Celebrates With Special Performance

Joined by the entire Top 12, Iam Tongi took to the Idol stage to perform Spawnbreezie’s “Don’t Let Go” to celebrate his big win.

By

Andrew Wendowski

Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

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Posted on May 21, 2023

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Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of American Idol/ABC

Iam Tongi has been crowned the season 21 winner of American Idol

On Sunday (May 21), the Hawaii native earned the title of American Idol champion at the conclusion of the star-studded finale. 

Joined by the entire Top 12, Iam Tongi took to the Idol stage to perform Spawnbreezie’s “Don’t Let Go” to celebrate his big win.

As confetti showered the audience, Iam Tongi was all smiles as he belted out the lyrics to the fan-favorite cover. 

Prior to being named the Idol winner, Tongi performed his debut single “I’ll Be Seeing You” and he also joined forces with James Blunt for a performance of “Monsters.” 

Earlier in the show, he was mentored by Keith Urban and performed the heart-wrenching track, “Making Memories Of Us.” 

From the moment American Idol viewers first met Season 21 contestant Iam Tongi, it was clear that he possessed something special. 

His memorable audition, which served as a tribute to his late father, captivated viewers and even brought Idol Judge Luke Bryan to tears. Appearing in front of the judges with his guitar in hand, Tongi explained that his father taught him everything he knows about music. 

“He’s the reason for all this?” Lionel Richie questioned at the time. 

Tongi confirmed, “My dad passed away a couple of months ago.

He auditioned with James Blunt’s 2019 hit “Monsters,” and all three of the Idol judges became visibly moved by his heartfelt performance.  

Following his tearful audition, Lionel Richie shared, “Young man, you take this into the world and you’re going to fracture some souls. Your dad is very proud.” 

During the Hollywood Round, Tongi once again impressed with a performance of  “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. He also had to opportunity to share the stage with contestant Oliver Steele for a performance of  “Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd. His solo performance of “The Sound Of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel officially earned him a spot in the Top 26.

Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of Easton Schirra/American Idol
Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of Easton Schirra/American Idol

The high school student had the opportunity to return to his native Hawaii for the Top 26 performance when he sang “Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie. Once again, Tongi prevailed and advanced to the next round of the competition. 

As the season progressed, Tongi took the stage to deliver stand-out covers of “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA, “Stuck On You” by Lionel Richie, and “Bring It One Home To Me by Sam Cooke.” 

Week after week, Tongi proved himself to be a front-runner. For his Top 10 performance, he sang “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. After this performance, Tongi was deemed a “phenomenon” and Katy Perry predicted that he could win the competition. 

“When you win ‘American Idol’ will you please just sing ‘More Than Words’ for me,” she begged.     

Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of American Idol/ABC
Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of American Idol/ABC

After advancing to the Top 8, Tongi had the chance to work with guest judge Alanis Morissette. He performed her song “Guardian” in honor of his mother. 

Guest judge Ed Sheeran told him, “I just felt like you really connected with the song and that makes us as listeners connect with it. It was just really, really beautiful.”

During this round, he also joined forces with Oliver Steele to sing Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph.” 

Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of American Idol/ABC
Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of American Idol/ABC

As the competition narrowed down, Tongi enjoyed his first visit to Disneyland and later performed  “Lava” from the Disney musical short film of the same name.   

“Listen Iam, a superhero mom once said ‘your identity is your most valuable possession’ and this is so true for you. You know exactly who you are and honey that is a superstar,” Katy Perry applauded. 

He also performed “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Although it was Mother’s Day, Tongi paid tribute to his late father with his second performance. 

Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of American Idol/ABC
Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of American Idol/ABC

Following another memorable performance from the Hawaii native, Perry told him, Iam stands for “I AM the next American Idol.” 

Ahead of the finale, Iam Tongi released his debut single, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” The song is an emotional tribute to his late father and is available on streaming platforms now

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Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

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