With the finishing line in sight for this 21st season of American Idol, Iam Tongi is leaving nothing to chance.
The Hawaii native has grown in confidence as the competition progresses, and continues to impress even in these nervous final stages.
During Monday night’s (May 1) top 10 episode, the high-schooler took it home with a rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” complete with some local touches. After ditching his guitar for Sunday night’s episode, and a performance of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me,” Tongi donned a colorful Hawaiian shirt and performed with a ukulele.
Accompanied with a steel guitar, Tongi’s talents were all on full display – control, tone, warmth. The crowd and judges are clearly rooting for him.
Born in Kahuku, the lovable teen is still grieving the loss of his dad, his musical mentor, though he’s throwing it all into his magical Idol run.
“When Iam’s dad passed away,” the contestant’s mom said during an earlier episode, “he didn’t wanna sing anymore. He kept saying that every time he sings, he could hear his dad backing up. After talking to him… it’s a beautiful thing that he could hear his dad.”
Following the latest show, Tyson Venegas and Marybeth Byrd were eliminated. There was a surprise to come when the three judges saved Oliver Steele, the 25-year-old from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee who dueted with Tongi last month, and whose own dad, a professional bluesman, has endured life-changing health problems.
What isn’t a surprise is that Tongi goes through to the final 8. He’s the gift that keeps giving.
Next Sunday (May 7), Idol will present performances from the surviving contestants, along with performances from top 8 mentor Alanis Morissette and Ed Sheeran, who both join Luke Bryan as guest judges.