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 months ago.
Brought Luke Bryan And Lionel Richie To Tears With His Audition
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 the 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.
Standout Idol Contestant
The high school student ad 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.
Worked With Ed Sheeran And Alanis Morissette
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.”
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.
Iam Stands For “I AM The Next American Idol,” According To Katy Perry
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.
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.
Iam Tongi was named the season 21 winner of American Idol during the finale on Sunday, May 21.
Re-live Iam Tongi’s American Idol journey below
Iam Tongi’s American Idol Audition
“Monsters” by James Blunt
“I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt
“Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd with Oliver Steele
“The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel
Top 26 Hawaii Round
“Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie
Top 20 Performance
“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
“Guardian” by Alanis Morissette
Top 5 (Disney Night)
“Lava” from Disney’s Lava
“Father and Son” from Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.