LISTEN: ‘American Idol’ Finalist Iam Tongi Honors Late Father With Debut Single, “I’ll Be Seeing You”

“The meaning of this song to me is when you lose someone you love, everything that you used to do with them reminds you of them,” Tongi explained.


Andrew Wendowski


Posted on May 19, 2023

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Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy of Easton Schirra/American Idol

American Idol finalist, Iam Tongi remembers his late father, Rodney, in his just-released debut single, “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Solely penned by Season 18 Idol alum Francisco Martin, “I’ll Be Seeing You” serves as a tribute to a loved one who passed away. For Tongi, that person is his father, who died just months before he auditioned for American Idol.

The lyrics find Tongi confessing that he’ll never forget “all your wits” and “all of the laughs.” While he admits he’s “lonely,” he has “no fear” because he finds comfort in the fact that he’ll see him again one day.

“’Cause I’ll be seeing you / Seeing you / Wherever I go / And I’ll be / Be with you / Be with you / Wherever I’ll go,” Tongi sings on the chorus.

READ: Jelly Roll Tearfully Reacts To ‘American Idol’ Finalist Iam Tongi: “He Starts Singing And It’s Angelic”

The song is a beacon of hope for anyone who’s lost a loved one.

“Gone, but your love / Is all I have left / I’ll stand tall / You’ll stay in my arms / Won’t stay in the dark / ‘Cause you’ll look for me,” Tongi sang on the third verse.

The tune, which released on Friday (May 19), was produced by Oak for the Orphanage, Feenom & Roland Kiss.

Listen To Iam Tongi’s “I’ll Be Seeing You” Below

YouTube video

Ahead of the tune’s release, Iam Tongi shared a clip describing what the song means to him. 

“The meaning of this song to me is when you lose someone you love, everything that you used to do with them reminds you of them,” Tongi explained. ”My dad had kidney failure and he used to go to dialysis. Every single time we pass to a dialysis place. Oh look, it’s dad. I just want people to understand where I’m coming from and to hopefully love the music.” 

Tongi recorded “I’ll Be Seeing You” at The Sound Factory with producer Oak Felder, an experience that he called “very special” and “awesome.”

“Oak Felder is such a cool guy. He’s so humble and he’s so chill,” Tongi continued. ”He was fun working with him.”

READ: Iam Tongi Declared A “Superstar” & “Phenomenon” By ‘American Idol’ Judges After Two Impressive Performances

The single comes just days after Iam Tongi made the Top 3 on American Idol alongside Megan Danielle and Colin Stough.

“Huge thank you to all of you for voting me to the finale! I’m coming home Hawaii!!!” Tongi shared on Instagram.

“Thank you guys for your love and support for me, I appreciate everyone for taking their time to support me, this is a dream come true for me , yessah 🤙🏾” Tongi added.

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

He Previously Paid Tribute To His Late Father

This isn’t the first time Iam has honored his father, who passed months before his American Idol audition. Iam Tongi auditioned for Idol with James Blunt’s 2019 hit “Monsters,” a tune Blunt wrote as a tribute to his father, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Disease.

His performance brought Bryan to tears and Richie told him, “Young man, you take this into the world and you’re going to fracture some souls. Your dad is very proud.” 

“This one’s for Rodney,” Perry exclaimed at the time, honoring Tongi’s late father.

YouTube video

Credits His Dad For Everything He Knows About Music

Tongi previously explained that his late father is who taught him everything he knows about music. 

“All my life my dad told that singing is the only thing that was meant for me,” Tongi explained after receiving his golden ticket. “So, the main reason I did music was for my dad. That’s how me and my dad bonded, but ever since he passed away, it’s been hard. This one’s for Rodney… yeah, for my dad. You would think I would cry because I miss him, but it’s because I can hear his singing… Like I can hear his harmony and I can hear how he would harmonize with me on that song. [My dad] always wanted me to come on American Idol to sing, so I’m gonna try to make him proud. I know he’s with me through my music he’ll always be with me. I love you Dad!”

The emotional performance earned Tongi a ticket to Hollywood and served as the start of his incredible American Idol journey. 

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

His audition went on to become one of the most-viewed auditions of season 21 of American Idol.

Standout Contestant On American Idol

Throughout the season, Iam Tongi performed songs such as “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt, “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, “Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie, “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA, “Stuck On You” by Lionel Richie, “Bring It On Home To Me” by Sam Cooke, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, and more.

Most recently, Tongi gave a nod to his native Hawaii with a performance of “Lava” from the Disney musical short film of the same name.

“The reason why I love that song is because it takes me to Hawaii and to me, it’s really important for me to represent where I’m from and make people proud,” Tongi explained.

YouTube video

“Your Dreams Have Come True”

His performance earned praise from each of the American Idol judges, including Lionel Richie, who praised his storytelling abilities.

“When we first met you who knew that this phenomenon was going to happen, but let me just say this to you. I consider you a master storyteller, you understand me? You don’t have to hit notes, you just have to tell the story, but I want to let you know something right now. Your dreams have come true,” Richie told him.

During the latest episode of Idol, Tongi also performed “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Although it was Mother’s Day, this performance served as a tribute to his late father.

YouTube video

Prior to joining American Idol, Tongi was active on TikTok where he shared many country covers, including Zach Bryan’s “Something In The Orange,” Vince Gill’s “Look At Us,” Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey,” Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon,” Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up,” Diamond Rio’s “One More Day With You,” Brad Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullaby,” among many others.

American Idol Finale

Iam Tongi, Megan Danielle and Colin Stough will face off for the title of American Idol champion during the three-hour season finale of American Idol on Sunday, May 21 at 8 pm ET.

Live from Hollywood, the finale will feature performances by the judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, as well as guest performers Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard, Ellie Goulding, James Blunt, Jazmine Sullivan, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban (who is also mentoring Top 3), Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon, Kylie Minogue, Lainey Wilson, Lauren Daigle, Pitbull, and TLC.

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