24.05.2023 / 20:31
‘American Idol’ Winner Iam Tongi on Becoming First AAPI Winner, Meeting Keith Urban and What’s Next
“American Idol” has crowned its newest winner in Hawaii native Iam Tongi, whose victory as the first AAPI winner of the ABC competition still has not fully hit him.“It’s unreal,” Tongi told TheWrap just two days after Ryan Seacrest announced his name on the big stage. “It’s weird to be here [as] the winner, because … it was going so slow during the competition, but out of nowhere it was finished and I was like ‘that went by so fast.'”While several AAPI contestants have climbed their way to the top three finalists, including fan-favorite Jasmine Trias of the show’s third installment, Tongi noted that this milestone achievement happening during national AAPI month in May gives the win an even bigger significance, saying “it feels really good to be representing why Polynesian people during this month.”Originally from Kahuku, a town in O’ahu, Hawaii, Tongi noted the challenge of saying goodbye to his friends back home to come compete on the show, where his talents were recognized early on by judges with some early successes, including being chosen to sing out the group after the judges narrowed the contestants down to the top 24 with an emotional rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”Tongi also experienced a personal accomplishment when he worked with guest mentor and country legend Keith Urban, whose music marked a distinct memory in Tongi’s upbringing as his father, who has since passed away, adored Urban’s music.