Fans Are Shocked to Discover Iam Tongi’s Past Before 'American Idol'

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We're deep into the 2023 season of American Idol, and each episode proves just how impressive the contestants are. With judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie providing consistent feedback, viewers are shocked by the charisma, the stories and most of all the talent each finalist brings to the iconic stage in the live shows.

As the competition singing show officially announced its Top 10, one particular singer stands out: William "Iam" Tongi, who viewers first met in the premiere episode of the season. At the time, the 18 year old emotionally opened up about the death of his father Rodney, and how their bond fueled him to audition for American Idol. What's more, his soulful rendition of James Blunt's "Monsters" left Luke in tears.

Since then, fans have continued to cheer on Iam's success and even wonder if he's on track to win the coveted title in the highly anticipated spring finale. While it's unclear where his trajectory is headed, there's a lot to know about the young musician before he took American Idol by storm.

While Iam is currently making headlines, this isn't the first season he auditioned for American Idol. In a March interview with the Kent Reporter, the outlet noted that the aspiring artist previously tried out for the popular series. When he didn't make it past the initial audition round, his father told him he should take time to perfect his talent.

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"He was like 'Son. I need to talk to you. You need to work on your music,'" he told the local publication.

Iam also expressed in the same conversation how proud he was of his Hawai'ian roots. Although his family moved to Seattle from Kahuku, Hawai'i, he still has fond memories about the community back home.

What's more, he has also received praise from folks where he lives now. Currently a senior at Decatur High School in Federal Way, Washington, his alma commented on Facebook a few days after their student's audition went viral in February. The post read: "Proud of this amazing Gator! Yitadee!!"

As Iam builds a name for himself on American Idol, he's actually already released a bit of music ahead of TV. He put out his single "Dreams" back in November 2020, sharing the four-minute track on popular streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. When he announced the news of his song on Instagram, he wasted no time expressing his gratitude to those who believed in him.

"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 on making it far on his musical journey, he frequently documents how his father Rodney inspires him to continue pursuing his dream. He shared a heartfelt moment while spending time at his grave, saying he wished he was there to witness him start 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 suffering a tragedy in his life, Iam and his late father's bond fuels him as he keeps soaring in the competition. What's more, he broke a major record for American Idol by becoming the most viewed audition ever (14 million views) on the show's official YouTube channel. He also quickly became a social media sensation, with his Instagram amassing over 400,000 followers and his TikTok gaining more than 700,000. 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."

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