5 Things to Know About Iam Tongi

Iam Tongi, the 18-year-old American Idol Winner from Kahuku, Hawaii, has achieved musical milestones since his upbringing on the island of O’ahu and the passing of his father in 2021. These milestones seemingly are nowhere close to coming to an end.

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Following his win on the 21st season of the staple television show earlier this year, Tongi made a plethora of media appearances, including an interview with Good Morning America. Despite the fact that fans are frothing at the mouth to hear more of Tongi, he decided to head back home to Seattle in order to finish his final semester of high school.

Fittingly, the anticipation regarding the second wave of Tongi’s career comes with great weight. Thus, when Tongi decides to pursue his music career further, it will arguably become one of the most memorable and monumental musical moments of the 21st century.

In accordance with Tongi’s impending comeback and the excitement surrounding it, here are five things to know about William “Iam” Guy Tongi.

Tongi Initially “Didn’t Like” the Ukulele

In an interview with American Songwriter, Tongi disclosed that when his fifth-grade music teacher taught him the ukulele, he “didn’t like it at first,” which comes as quite a surprise given that the ukulele now holds a special place in Tongi’s musical repertoire. Though, this slight disdain for the instrument quickly faded after the artist played it in front of his parents for the first time.

“I started feeling a connection to music when I went home and I told my parents, my family, I can play,” Tongi told American Songwriter. Subsequently, Tongi congealed his passion for music when he performed a cover of the Black Eyed Peas’ hit “Where is Love?” on the ukulele for his fifth-grade talent show.

Connection to Seattle

In 2019, Tongi and his family uplifted their roots from Kahuku and moved to Seattle, Washington. Even though Tongi has an affection for the city, the reason why he and his family moved wasn’t necessarily under the best circumstance, as Tongi told the Seattle Times his family was “priced out of paradise.” Regardless, Tongi’s positive outlook in connection with Seattle seemingly outweighs the negative, as another reason Tongi has a love for the state is due to the fact that his father is buried there.

Tongi Nearly Quit Music

After Tongi’s father tragically passed away in 2021 due to kidney failure, Tongi became disenchanted with music due to the memories of his father that it arose. Matter of fact, Tongi’s mother, Lillie, told American Idol host Juana Summers that Tongi, “didn’t want to sing anymore because [he] kept hearing your dad back you up.” Lillie also signed up Tongi for the 21st season of the show and only let him know that she did so just a few days prior to his audition. Needless to say, American Idol and Tongi fans across the globe are ever so grateful for his mother’s decision.

He Was Originally Denied from American Idol

Before Tongi became one of America Idol‘s most notable winners, the artist actually auditioned for season 20 and came up short of making it. Though this evidently didn’t stop him, as after the devastating news, Tongi’s father told him that he needed to perfect his talent and give it another shot. Once again, the wider public seemingly thanks Tongi’s parents for motivating him amidst trying times.

Tongi Released Music Prior to American Idol

Even though Tongi has released new music since American Idol, the artist had music available on both Spotify and Apple Music before his global introduction. In November 2020, Tongi released his song “Dreams.” As of July 2023, the song has more than 925,000 streams on Spotify.

(ABC/Eric McCandless)

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