Iam Tongi, who was born and raised in Kahuku on the North Shore of Oahu, will perform as one of the Top 3 on American Idol’s Season 21 finale on Sunday.
On the premiere episode of American Idol on Feb. 19, Tongi made all three judges cry after dedicating his song “Monsters” by James Blunt to his father, Rodney, who died just a couple of months before the performance.
The 18-year-old singer is of Tongan, Samoan and Irish descent and he is a senior at Decatur High School in Washington State, where his family moved three years ago. When American Idol judge Lionel Richie asked Tongi why he left Hawaii, he said his family was “priced out of paradise.”
After making it into the Top 3 on May 14, Tongi headed to Hawaii and sang at a special concert on Tuesday at Turtle Bay, with thousands gathering to hear the performer.
Hawaii Gov. Josh Green attended the concert and is clearly a fan. He posted on social media asking people to vote for Tongi on Sunday.
The American Idol finale will air live on Sunday at 2 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time. There are three ways to vote: online at American Idol’s website, through the American Idol app or text the voting numbers of the contestant you would like to vote for to “21523.” Voters must be at least 16 years of age and located in the U.S., Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
Tongi follows in the footsteps of several other Hawaii musicians who have appeared on American Idol, including Paula Fuga, who unsuccessfully auditioned for the show in 2003, Jason Segundo, who was a Top 32 semi-finalist in 2003, Camile Velasco (known by her stage name as Eli-Mac), who came in ninth place on the show in 2004, and Jasmine Trias, who came in third place in 2004.