The winner of Season 21 of "American Idol" was announced this past Sunday night, and the coveted title went to Iam Tongi, an 18-year-old senior from Decatur High School in Federal Way.

Tongi's journey to victory began with his widely viewed audition on February 19, which has garnered over 16 million views on the "American Idol" YouTube page. 

During this audition, he emotionally performed an acoustic rendition of James Blunt's "Monster," dedicating it to his late father, Rodney, who passed away in December 2021, as reported by Kent Reporter. We replayed a snippet of the audition, this morning on KW3 - It reduced Connor & Aly to tears.

Tongi, who hails from Kahuku, a town in O'ahu, Hawaii, possesses a diverse heritage that encompasses Tongan, Samoan, and Irish roots, as stated by Spectrum News. Approximately three years ago, Iam Tongi and his family relocated to Federal Way, Washington, just outside of Seattle, after finding themselves “priced out of the Hawaiian paradise”. When questioned by the judges about the move, Tongi candidly shared the reasons behind it. “We moved to a State that was more inexpensive.”

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This 2023 viral audition was not Tongi's first attempt to capture the "American Idol" crown. In a previous season, he auditioned for the popular singing competition but did not advance beyond the initial screening. However, Iam Tongi's father, Rodney, who always recognized his son's talent, supported him throughout the process, even after the setback. Tongi fondly remembers his father's words, "Son, I need to talk to you. You need to work on your music." Despite having high expectations, Rodney's love for his son and their relationship remained unshaken.

Reflecting on his father's memory, Iam expressed his admiration, acknowledging that while his father was not flawless, he was the best father he could have asked for. Tongi cherishes the fact that his father always spoke the truth and showered him with love, sentiments you can plainly see.


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