Iam (William) Tongi received a hero’s welcome when he returned to Hawaii this week with a home coming parade, a free concert and the icing on the cake – an honorary diploma awarded by his former high school.
The award was an initiative of the senior class of Kahuku High School in Oahu where Tongi was a student before he and his family moved to California.
Kahuku Alumni Association Board Chairman, Kela Miller, told KITV4 that it is the first time in the history of the school this has been done.
“As an honorary [diploma] it was done by the senior class who wanted to just honor him..”
Iam Tongi will compete in the Season 21 finale of American Idol this Sunday. His moving performances throughout the season have earned him a spot in the Top 3 alongside Megan Danielle and Colin Stough.
Born and raised in Kahuku on the North Shore of Oahu, the 18-year-old singer is of Tongan, Samoan and Irish descent and a senior at Decatur High School in Washington State, where his family moved three years ago.
“I mean it’s awesome, the community right now we’re just embracing him, it’s just a Red Raider nation, embracing a loved one here, we’re just supporting him as best as we can”, said Kahuku H.S. Football Coach Sterling Carvalho.
Tongi addressed the crowd and said, “I just want to say thank you all you guys – Kahuku for bringing me home, Red Raider for life!”
The singing superstar then put on a show along with special musical guests at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore.
Iam performed alongside established Hawaiian musicians including Jack Johnson, Common Kings, Kawika Kahiapo, John Cruz and Paula Fuga.
The only live stream of the concert was filmed and made available by Hawaii’s KITV4.
According to KITV4, a last-minute change by the event organizers altered the original plan for streaming the concert..
“So KITV4 had to improvise, bringing an impromptu behind-the-scenes look at the concert… In the end, KITV4 delivered the ONLY livestream of the concert!
After a few days on Oahu this week, it’s back to California to pursue the 2023 American Idol title this Sunday (US Time).
Don’t forget to vote for Iam on Sunday – at 2 p.m. HST (Hawaii Standard Time) if you live in the Islands – by texting 12 to 21523.
You can also vote for Iam on the American Idol app or on AmericanIdol.com/vote.
Voters are allowed to cast 10 votes per voting source.