‘American Idol’ Winner Iam Tongi Reveals Why He Didn’t Remove His Hat Before Singing The National Anthem At Home Run Derby

Tongi promised to “try to do better next time.”


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

July 11, 2023


5:34 pm

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Iam Tongi; Photo Courtesy MLB.com

American Idol winner Iam Tongi recently delivered an unforgettable performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during the 2023 Home Run Derby. As he stood in front of the full crowd at T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners, the Idol champ put his stunning vocals on display and belted out every lyric to the National Anthem. 

Through the large screen that cast his performance throughout the park, Tongi didn’t appear to show any signs of nervousness, however, when he later took to social media to share a video of the moment, he admitted to forgetting an important step. 

“Tens of thousands of people. I walk out and my uncle reminds me to remove my hat before I start singing. I remember. A few seconds later the nerves took in and didn’t remember until it was all done. I will try to do better next time 🤙🏾,” Tongi wrote in the caption, making note of the fact that he accidentally forgot to remove his baseball cap before he began to sing.

Despite this fact, he received roaring applause from the entire stadium as he finished the final lyrics, proving his job well done. 

Major League Baseball’s 2023 T-Mobile Home Run Derby was held Monday, July 10, and exclusively televised on ESPN. 

Two-time Home Run Derby champion and Mets slugger, Pete Alonso, headlined this year’s eight-slugger bracket. Also participating in the bracket was Randy Arozarena (Rays), Mookie Betts (Dodgers), Adolis García (Rangers), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays), Luis Robert Jr. (White Sox), Julio Rodríguez (Mariners), and Adley Rutschman (Orioles).

In the end, Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. walked away victorious as the 2023 Home Run Derby champion. This marked a historic feat as it means he and his dad, Guerrero Sr., are the only father-son duo to win the title. In addition, Guerrero Jr., joins the Hall of Fame, 16 years after his father was inducted. 

Iam Tongi played a key role in kicking off the All-Star festivities. The singer’s performance on the baseball field follows his recent appearance in Hawaii where he headlined the annual “Ohana Day” celebration. 

He was included in the star-studded lineup which also featured Reggae sensation Spawnbreezie, Kapena, Likkle Jordee, Paula fuga, and Natural Vibrations.

Taking to Instagram, Tongi shared several photos from his time on stage with fellow rising artist, Kolohe Kai, who has continued to show his support for Tongi’s musical journey. 

His caption read, “Much love Ohana Day & a special shoutout to @kolohekaimusic! Last night was a special one 🤙🏾”

Another post featured a clip of his time on stage at Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort. In the video, Tongi can be heard speaking to the audience and sharing that he was dedicating his next performance, a cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” to his mom who was present in the audience that night. Throughout the stunning delivery, the crowd erupted in cheers of excitement for the young artist. 

Tongi then went on to sing several more songs including his version of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Lover of Mine.” He proudly revealed that this was the first time he would get to perform this tune in front of a live audience.

Each of these milestone appearances came in the midst of his first-ever tour, which was announced on June 20 via Twitter.

“I’ll be seeing you on the road this summer,” he shared at the time. 

IAM TONGI; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
IAM TONGI; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

The summer tour kicked off Friday, June 23 at the first-ever BEACH IT! Festival in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Next up, the singer will visit Tacoma, WA and Ventura, CA before making his debut at the iconic Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA with back-to-back shows on July 24 and 25th.  

The remainder of the tour includes appearances at several fairs and festivals.  

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.