We’re halfway through the 2023 season of American Idol, and each episode shows how talented the participants are. With judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie consistently delivering feedback, viewers are stunned by the charisma, anecdotes, and, most importantly, skill that each candidate brings to the historic stage in the live shows.
As the Top 10 of the singing competition show were announced, one particular singer stood out: William “Iam” Tongi, who fans first met in the season opener. At the time, the 18-year-old talked out about his father Rodney’s passing and how their relationship inspired him to compete in American Idol. Furthermore, his soulful rendition of James Blunt’s “Monsters” left Luke in tears.
Fans have continued to cheer Iam’s success and question if he’s on track to win the coveted title in the spring finals. While it’s unclear where his career will take him, there’s a lot to know about the young musician before he blew up on American Idol.
While I am making headlines right now, this isn’t the first time he auditioned for American Idol. The Kent Reporter reported in March that aspiring artist had previously tried out for the famous series. When he didn’t make it past the first round of auditions, his father advised him to take his time improving his talent.
“He was like ‘Son. I need to talk to you. You need to work on your music,'” he told the local publication.
I also highlighted his happiness in his Hawaiian roots during the same conversation. Despite that his family moved to Seattle from Kahuku, Hawai’i, he retains great memories of his hometown.
Furthermore, he has received praise from his new neighbors. His brother, who is now a senior at Decatur High School in Federal Way, Washington, posted on Facebook a few days after his audition went viral in February. The post read: “Proud of this amazing Gator! Yitadee!!”
While I am making a name for himself on American Idol, he has already released some music. He released his single “Dreams” in November 2020, making it available on various streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. He wasted no time applauding people who believed in him as he revealed the news of his song on Instagram.
“Thank you so much for your love and support because without you all I couldn’t and wouldn’t have kept making music,” he wrote, in part. “I plan to continue to record and put out more. Thank you 🙏🏾.”
As the world celebrates with Iam for making it this far on his musical journey, he frequently documents how his father Rodney inspires him to keep going. He had a poignant moment when visiting his grave, stating he wishes he could have been there to see him begin his musical journey.
“I got that golden ticket dad wish you were here,” Iam wrote on Instagram on February 20, the day after his audition aired on TV.
Despite having suffered a tragedy in his life, Iam’s bond with his late father fuels him as he continues to soar in the competition. Furthermore, he set a major record for American Idol by becoming the most-viewed audition ever on the show’s official YouTube channel (14 million views). He also rapidly became a social media star, with over 400,000 followers on Instagram and over 700,000 on TikTok. Through it all, though, he’s still grateful for where he’s going in life.
“Hey guys, thank you so much for voting for me and supporting me,” he shared in a video posted to TikTok on May 1. “It really means a lot that you guys voted me to the Top 10. Just remember to tune in tomorrow at the same time — everything’s the same and love you guys. Thank you for always supporting me.”