Photo by Bruce Honda.
Iam Tongi sings “Courage” during the March 21 Federal Way City Council Meeting.

Photo by Bruce Honda. Iam Tongi sings “Courage” during the March 21 Federal Way City Council Meeting.

Will Iam Tongi win it all? Federal Way student competes in ‘Idol’ grand finale

Final episode of ‘American Idol’ Sunday, May 21 for local singer, guitarist from Decatur High School

After months of performances, flights and fitting schoolwork in-between, the journey is nearly complete for Federal Way’s Iam Tongi.

From a crowd of competitors that started in the thousands last year, the Decatur High School student has now made it to the Top 3 of this year’s “American Idol” competitors.

All that’s left is the 2023 grand finale, live at 5 p.m. Sunday, May 21 on ABC (KOMO).

Tongi, who was born and raised in Kahuku, Oahu, secured his spot on May 14, with a performance of “Lava,” a song featured in a Pixar short of the same name. The song details the story of Uku, a fictional, anthropomorphic volcano who falls in love with another volcano called Lele. He also performed “Father and Son” by Yusuf / Cat Stevens.

In a video posted to his Facebook page, Tongi also thanked Federal Way and Seattle for “taking me in as one of their own, and opening doors for me, giving me so many opportunities.”

As with the previous several weeks, audience voting will determine Tongi’s fate. For more information on how to vote, visit

Talk to us

Are you an “American Idol” fan, a parent or student at Decatur, a member of the Polynesian community, or anyone else touched by Iam Tongi’s appearances on “American Idol?”

We’d like to know what his performances mean for you, in terms of cultural representation, musicianship, or anything else. Email to share your stories or thoughts on the rising musician.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

The Vienna Boys Choir will perform Oct. 17 at the Kentwood Performing Arts Center as part of the city of Kent Spotlight Series. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent
Lineup set for Kent Spotlight Series fall, winter concerts

Performances include Vienna Boys Choir; Magical Strings Celtic Yuletide Concert and more

Kent-based Rainier Youth Choirs seek members for upcoming season

Choirs open to children in the second through 12th grades

Good times at the fifth annual Cruisin’ Kent Car Show | Photos

People flock to see the vehicles at Kent Station

Car show returning Aug. 27 to Kent Station shopping center

Many vehicles to be displayed at fifth annual event

Theatre Battery returns this month with performances at Kent Station

‘Deep Purple Wiggle’ to be featured four days a week Aug. 24-Sept. 10

Thousands fill downtown streets for Kent Cornucopia Days | Photos

5K run and walk, dragon boat races part of the annual festival

Junior H to perform at ShoWare Center in Kent Sept. 29

Mexican singer has over 21 million listeners on Spotify and more than one billion views on YouTube

Kent Cornucopia Days street fair, festival set for July 14-16

More than 200 vendors fill downtown streets; dragon boat races, car show, 5K run part of free event

Fun times in Kent at Fourth of July Splash at Lake Meridian | Photos

Fireworks, food trucks, music and cooling off in the water