Iam Tongi’s American Idol journey started with tears, and ended the same way.
When Iam Tongi auditioned for American Idol he shared the story of his late father who died just a few months before Iam’s audition. Iam told the judges that he could still hear his dad, Rodney, harmonizing with him on every song he sings. The singer learned everything he knows from his dad who had dreams that Iam would try out for American Idol.
Tongi, a native of Hawaii, fought tears as he tried to win them over with a cover of “Monsters” by James Blunt. His beautiful rendition had Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan in tears.
“I cannot handle your heart breaking about your dad because, you know, my nephew lost his dad and he came to live with me. Just seeing you missing your dad just sucks,” Luke told Iam at the time.
The judges unanimously voted to give Tongi a coveted Golden Ticket to Hollywood. It was the beginning of a memorable journey for Iam that would end with him being crowned the Season 21 winner during Sunday night’s finale (May 21).
But, just before he was named the winner, Iam Tongi was joined on stage by James Blunt to perform “Monsters,” the song that landed him on American Idol to begin with.
This time, emotions were running higher than ever with the pressure of the finale on his shoulders, and likely memories of his dad and knowing how proud his dad would be of his success in the competition. So when James Blunt started singing and Iam went to join him, the tears started flowing.
Iam did his best to sing through the tears, but was at one point openly weeping. As the camera scanned the audience, Jelly Roll could be seen with tears streaming down his face as he sat next to Iam’s mother. Once again the judges were crying, with Katy Perry barely keeping it together.
Grab some Kleenex and watch Iam Tongi and James Blunt’s emotional performance of “Monsters” in the video below.