American Idol's Iam Tongi on inspiring 'all my talented Polynesians'

Tue, May 23
Iam Tongi in the final of American Idol season 21

Before heading onto the stage for his American Idol season 21 finale, Iam Tongi told himself he wasn't going to cry.

But as James Blunt started singing Monsters — the song Tongi performed in his audition as a tribute to his late father — he wasn't able to hold his emotions back.

"When we were about to sing it, I was telling myself I wasn't going to cry because I cry a lot on the Idol stage," the 18-year-old Hawaiian told Hollywood Life.

"I was trying not to, but right when James started singing the first words I just started crying because I just love his voice. It sounds like heartache, and he's an amazing person."

Tongi, who is of Tongan and Samoan descent, is the first Hawiian-born Pacific Islander to win the show, and he wanted to win to prove to others they too could perform on the big stage.

"Honestly, I just want to be the one that inspires all my talented Polynesians to action," he said.

"They're scared they're going to be embarrassed or whatever, but we've got a lot of talent in the Polynesian community."

Tongi said he planned on recutting his original songs, and hoped to eventually release an album, as well as continuing to perform live and writing with his friends.


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