From a viral audition that moved the judges to tears to a triumphant victory on Season 21 of American Idol, 20-year-old William “Iam” Tongi brought a warm and passionate attitude to each performance that reflected both his birthplace of Kahuku, Hawaii, and his personal religion. Tongi, an 18-year-old Latter-day Saint, wanted to pay tribute to his late father, who died of cancer a few months before the event and was the inspiration for him to pursue music. He became the youngest male winner in history.
“People thought I was crying because I missed him, but it’s because I hear him singing—I can hear his harmony,” Tongi explained after his first audition. “I’m sure he’s with me. He’ll always be with me through my music.”
Throughout the show, Tongi mentioned his faith on social media, including posting about General Conference and singing hymns with fellow contestants.
After his win, Tongi was given a warm welcome as he visited Hawaii and the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Take a look back at some of Tongi’s most memorable performances this season on Idol.