‘American Idol’ Winner Iam Tongi Shines Bright In ‘Special’ Homecoming Performance

Tongi returned to Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort to headline the annual “Ohana Day” celebration.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

July 6, 2023


12:55 pm

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Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

Over the weekend, Iam Tongi returned home to Hawaii to present his American Idol-winning talent to thousands of fans. 

The Kahuku-born star appeared at Oahu’s Turtle Bay Resort to headline the annual “Ohana Day” celebration alongside Reggae sensation Spawnbreezie. The rest of the star-studded lineup included 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. 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.

Turtle Bay has proved to be a special place for Tongi as the resort was also the chosen location for Tongi’s first hometown show during his time on Season 21 of the singing competition show. Before taking the stage once again, Tongi sat down with KITV4 to reflect on his journey and what he was feeling upon his return. 

“Last time I was here, you know, it was just a tough schedule. I couldn’t go and do a lot of things,” he shared. “So now that I’m here, I get to relax a little bit after the show, do whatever. Just go cruise, eat, and all the things yeah. Da Bald Guy, Papa Ole’s.” 

YouTube video

The Idol champ’s recent stop in Hawaii comes in the midst of his first-ever tour. Iam Tongi announced the news of his latest trek via Twitter.

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

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.  

In addition to his 10-date run, Tongi revealed to KITV4 that fans can expect more new music from him in the near future. 

“I have a lot of new songs but I have a new single that’s about to drop. And its’ called, ‘Why Kiki?’ But not Waikiki. The girl’s name is Kiki and you’re like ‘Why Kiki?’” he explained.

Fans got a preview of the soon-to-be-released track in a behind-the-scenes look at the recording process that Tongi recently shared to Twitter.

The upcoming track will follow a string of releases for Tongi, including his debut single, “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Solely penned by Season 18 Idol alum Francisco Martin, the soulful tune finds Tongi using his powerful vocals to speak to those who have experienced the pain of losing a loved one. Tongi holds this narrative close to his heart, as he reflects on the passing of his father, who died just months before he auditioned for American Idol

Within the lyrics, he declares a sincere vulnerability as he admits to loneliness. However, at the same time, the singer has found a sense of peace in knowing that he will one day be reunited with this person. 

“’Cause I’ll be seeing you / Seeing you / Wherever I go / And I’ll be / Be with you / Be with you / Wherever I’ll go,” Tongi sings on the chorus.

YouTube video

The tune, which was released on May 19 ahead of the American Idol finale, was produced by Oak for the Orphanage, Feenom & Roland Kiss.

Before releasing the song into the world, Iam Tongi took the time to share a clip in which he explains what the song means to him. 

“The meaning of this song to me is when you lose someone you love, everything that you used to do with them reminds you of them,” Tongi shared. ”My dad had kidney failure and he used to go to dialysis. Every single time we pass to a dialysis place. Oh look, it’s dad. I just want people to understand where I’m coming from and to hopefully love the music.” 

Iam Tongi - I'll Be Seeing You
Iam Tongi – I’ll Be Seeing You

Tongi made it a point to keep his father close in spirit throughout the entirety of his American Idol journey. This allowed him to connect with the audience through his incredible storytelling that moved his fellow contestants, and the Idol judges time and time again. 

In the end, Tongi faced off against finalists Megan Danielle and Colin Stough and ultimately claimed the winning title. 

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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.