Alex Bruell / The Mirror
Decatur High School senior and “American Idol” contestant Iam Tongi sits at home on March 1. His father Rodney spent a bonus from his job as an electrician to buy Iam’s guitar.

Alex Bruell / The Mirror Decatur High School senior and “American Idol” contestant Iam Tongi sits at home on March 1. His father Rodney spent a bonus from his job as an electrician to buy Iam’s guitar.

Federal Way singer Iam Tongi advances on ‘American Idol’

Decatur High School student stays alive in competition

He’s still in it to win it.

Decatur High School student and “American Idol” contestant Iam Tongi is on to the next round after the latest episode of his competition in Hollywood aired this week.

His journey began last year, when Tongi earned an opportunity to sing onscreen for judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Tongi and other artists earned tickets to further compete in Hollywood.

In episodes that premiered April 2 and 3, Tongi made it through the next two rounds, including a duet in which he performed with fellow competitor Oliver Steele. The two sang “Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd and Ariana Grande.

Just prior to their performance, Tongi’s guitar — the one gifted to him by his dad Rodney — was damaged, forcing him to go on stage with a temporary replacement and feeling anxious about performing.

Steele consoled him before they went on stage: “It’s you, it’s not the guitar. The power of all that comes from you. The guitar is just a tool.”

On stage and in tears, Tongi rallied and performed alongside Steele, singing lyrics that seemed almost too poetic for the circumstances.

“Save your tears for another day,” Tongi crooned, a smile soon growing across his face.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. 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 Northwest

9th Congressional District Rep. Adam Smith, 8th Congressional District Rep. Kim Schrier, 1st Congressional District Rep. Suzan DelBene and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell are among Democrats from Washington state who support President Joe Biden’s decision to stop his re-election campaign. Courtesy photos
WA Democrat leaders ‘applaud’ Biden for dropping out of race

Smith, Schrier, DelBene and Cantwell released statements in support of President Biden’s Sunday decision to no longer seek re-election.

t
Inquest explores 2019 fatal police shooting in Federal Way

Malik Williams was shot in an apartment parking lot.

Courtesy Photo, U.S. Department of Justice
Federal Way man accused of trafficking multimillion-dollars of stolen goods

Alongside a Bellevue man, the pair reportedly would buy stolen goods, then sell them online.

t
Teen dies in Auburn shooting

Officers responded at 10:45 p.m. July 12 to a shooting in the 500 block of A Street Southeast.

A boy picks out Honeycrisp apples for his family at Swans Trail Farms in Snohomish, Washington. Sound Publishing File Photo
Selling Washington’s food and farm products to the world

Department of Agriculture is assembling a program to help promote products grown, raised, caught, baked and brewed in Washington.

John Houston (center) speaks during a post-screening panel discussion for the “King County Reparations Project.” Pictured left to right: Stephanie Johnson-Tolliver, President of the Black Heritage Society of Washington State; Seattle Central College professor Rev. Carl Livingston; Houston; Director Angela Moorer; Former King County Councilmember Larry Gossett. Photo by Bailey Jo Josie/Sound Publishing
Documentary on reparations includes Renton family’s story

Reparations Project tells the stories of the displacement of African Americans in King County

t
Federal Way woman accused of driving high in fatal crash

Victim was age 19 and died three days after the crash.

A free CPR training and career fair will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire
Fire authorities offer free CPR training, career fair Saturday, July 13

Event open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at accesso ShoWare Center in Kent

t
Man, 26, drowns at Gene Coulon Beach in Renton

Renton Police are still investigating.

Traffic slows as it moves around the bend of northbound I-5 through north Everett on May 22, 2024. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Washington’s population exceeds 8 million

More than 68% of the growth occurred in the state’s five largest metropolitan counties

A gray wolf. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Vote nears on ending ‘endangered’ status for WA wolves

The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s recommendation is to downlist wolves from “endangered” to “sensitive.”