LISTEN: Iam Tongi Pays Homage To His Late Father With Heartfelt Debut Single, ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’

“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 explains.


Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

May 19, 2023


8:47 am

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Iam Tongi, Photo by Easton Schirra/ ABC, American Idol

American Idol finalist, Iam Tongi remembers his late father, Rodney, in his just-released debut single, “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

Solely penned by Season 18 Idol alum Francisco Martin, “I’ll Be Seeing You” serves as a tribute to a loved one who passed away. For Tongi, that person is his father, who died just months before he auditioned for American Idol

The lyrics find Tongi confessing that he’ll never forget “all your wits” and “all of the laughs.” While he admits he’s “lonely,” he has “no fear” because he finds comfort in the fact that he’ll see him again one day.     

Debut Single Out Now

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

“’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.

A Beacon Of Hope

The song is a beacon of hope for anyone who’s lost a loved one.

“Gone but your love/ Is all I have left/ I’ll stand tall/ You’ll stay in my arms/ Won’t stay in the dark/ ‘Cause you’ll look for me,” 

The tune, which was released on Friday (May 19), was produced by Oak for the Orphanage, Feenom & Roland Kiss.


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Meaning Of The Song

Ahead of the tune’s release, Iam Tongi shared a clip describing 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 explained. ”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.” 

Tongi recorded “I’ll Be Seeing You” at The Sound Factory with producer Oak Felder, an experience that he called “very special” and “awesome.”

“Oak Felder is such a cool guy. He’s so humble and he’s so chill,” Tongi continued. ”He was fun working with him.”

The single comes just days after Iam Tongi made the Top 3 on American Idol alongside Megan Danielle and Colin Stough.

“Huge thank you to all of you for voting me to the finale! I’m coming home Hawaii!!!” Tongi shared on Instagram.

“Thank you guys for your love and support for me, I appreciate everyone for taking their time to support me, this is a dream come true for me , yessah 🤙🏾” Tongi added.

An Emotional Journey

Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

This isn’t the first time Iam has honored his father, who passed months before his American Idol audition. Iam Tongi auditioned for Idol with James Blunt’s 2019 hit “Monsters,” a tune Blunt wrote as a tribute to his father, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Disease.

His performance brought Bryan to tears and Richie told him, “Young man, you take this into the world and you’re going to fracture some souls. Your dad is very proud.” 

“This one’s for Rodney,” Perry exclaimed at the time, honoring Tongi’s late father.

Memorable Audition

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Tongi previously explained that his late father is who taught him everything he knows about music. 

“All my life my dad told that singing is the only thing that was meant for me,” Tongi explained after receiving his golden ticket. “So, the main reason I did music was for my dad. That’s how me and my dad bonded, but ever since he passed away, it’s been hard. This one’s for Rodney… yeah, for my dad. You would think I would cry because I miss him, but it’s because I can hear his singing… Like I can hear his harmony and I can hear how he would harmonize with me on that song. [My dad] always wanted me to come on American Idol to sing, so I’m gonna try to make him proud. I know he’s with me through my music he’ll always be with me. I love you Dad!”

The emotional performance earned Tongi a ticket to Hollywood and served as the start of his incredible American Idol journey.

His audition went on to become one of the most-viewed auditions of season 21 of American Idol.

Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

Throughout the season, Iam Tongi performed songs such as “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt, “The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel, “Don’t Let Go” by Spawnbreezie, “The Winner Takes It All” by ABBA, “Stuck On You” by Lionel Richie, “Bring It On Home To Me” by Sam Cooke, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, and more.

Earned Praise From Judges

Most recently, Tongi gave a nod to his native Hawaii with a performance of “Lava” from the Disney musical short film of the same name.

“The reason why I love that song is because it takes me to Hawaii and to me, it’s really important for me to represent where I’m from and make people proud,” Tongi explained.

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His performance earned praise from each of the American Idol judges, including Lionel Richie, who praised his storytelling abilities.

“When we first met you who knew that this phenomenon was going to happen, but let me just say this to you. I consider you a master storyteller, you understand me? You don’t have to hit notes, you just have to tell the story, but I want to let you know something right now. Your dreams have come true,” Richie told him.

During the latest episode of Idol, Tongi also performed “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Although it was Mother’s Day, this performance served as a tribute to his late father.

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Prior to joining American Idol, Tongi was active on TikTok where he shared many country covers, including Zach Bryan’s “Something In The Orange,” Vince Gill’s “Look At Us,” Chris Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey,” Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon,” Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up,” Diamond Rio’s “One More Day With You,” Brad Paisley’s “Whiskey Lullaby,” among many others.


Colin Stough, Megan Danielle, Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Colin Stough, Megan Danielle, Iam Tongi; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

Iam Tongi, Megan Danielle and Colin Stough will face off for the title of American Idol champion during the three-hour season finale of American Idol on Sunday, May 21 at 8 pm ET.

Live from Hollywood, the finale will feature performances by the judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie, as well as guest performers Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard, Ellie Goulding, James Blunt, Jazmine Sullivan, Jelly Roll, Keith Urban (who is also mentoring Top 3), Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon, Kylie Minogue, Lainey Wilson, Lauren Daigle, Pitbull, and TLC.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for and her work being featured on She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.