Iam Tongi Reveals the Best Advice He Got on ‘American Idol’

American Idol season 21 winner Iam Tongi got plenty of valuable advice during his journey on the show, but there was one piece that stood out amongst the rest.

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The Hawaii native reveals that judge Katy Perry offered him words of wisdom that stuck with him throughout the competition. “I think the best advice that I had from the judges was Katy [Perry], she said I’m a great storyteller,” Tongi recalls to American Songwriter. “So I tried to focus on that throughout the whole competition and have fun with it a little bit. I played a lot of reggae songs and a lot of Hawaiian music. It was just fun.”

Perry actually predicted that Tongi would be the winner during Disney Week. “I believe it’s written in the stars,” she told him. “I don’t believe in coincidences. I know that you are Iam, but when I see your name I see ‘I am …the next American Idol.’”

Tongi made a name for himself with his voice and storytelling abilities, offering particularly emotive performances of his audition song, “Monsters” by James Blunt, “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, and the original song, “I’ll Be Seeing You” that he performed during the finale. The 18-year-old won over the hearts of Americans with the story of his late father and how he helped foster his son’s passion for music.

“After my dad passed away, I didn’t want to do music anymore,” Tongi recently shared in an interview with American Songwriter about auditioning for Idol at his mother’s urgency. “I just practiced hard because she was like, ‘Do this one for dad…’ It was hard for me to sing [“Monsters”] because music was shown to me by my dad. My dad taught me what I know about music.” 

Megan Danielle was named the Idol runner-up while Colin Stough came in third place.

Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

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