On Sunday’s three-hour finale of “American Idol,” 18-year-old Hawaii native Iam Tongi was crowned the season 21 champion. Outspoken Christian Megan Danielle, a 21-year-old from Georgia, placed second.
Tongi, who graduates from high school next month, won a recording contract and a $250,000 cash prize. The teen won judges’ hearts during his audition, when he sang James Blunt’s song “Monsters” in honor of his recently deceased father.
On Sunday’s finale, Blunt and an emotional Tongi sang “Monsters” together. Both men’s fathers suffered from kidney failure, and Tongi’s dad died in December 2021.
‘Idol’ Winner Iam Tongi, a Latter-Day Saint, Also Sings Hymns
During his run on “American Idol,” Tongi has shared his LDS faith in social media posts. He cited a quote from the LDS president and also posted videos of himself singing church hymns. One duet of “Amazing Grace” is filmed in front of the LDS temple in Oakland, California.
Tongi dedicated many of his “Idol” performances to his father, Rodney Tongi, who had encouraged him to audition for the show. After Tongi’s unsuccessful first attempt, his father pushed him “to work on your music.”
Tongi admitted that although his father wasn’t a saint, he was loving and truthful. The teen said he gets emotional while performing because he can hear his father singing. “I can hear his harmony,” Tongi said. “Through my music, he’ll always be with me.” Tongi’s newest single is “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
Tongi moved to Washington state a few years ago but expressed gratitude for all the support from his home state and from fellow Polynesians. The musician said he’s heard from many fans who resonate with his story of love and loss. “It makes me feel good about myself because I’m helping out someone else,” Tongi said. “But also, my dad’s helping them. It’s my story between me and my dad. … I already know he’s up there, telling everyone.”
Outspoken Christian Megan Danielle Places Second
After finalist Colin Stough was eliminated midway through Sunday’s finale, the competition was between Tongi and Megan Danielle. Throughout this season of “Idol,” Danielle has spoken often about her faith in Jesus. As she performed Lauren Daigle’s “You Say” during her audition, the Christian singer walked into the room and sang with her.
Danielle sang other faith-based songs throughout the competition. On Sunday’s finale, her performances included “God Whispered Your Name” by Keith Urban and her original song “Dream Girl.”