For every act we see on shows like The X Factor or American Idol, there are thousands that we don’t. The judges attend auditions in multiple cities and only a fraction of them are shown on television. When you consider how many artists the judges must have heard you realise that an act would have to be very special to move them tears.
That’s exactly what Iam Tongi did when he appeared on the latest season of American Idol. His audition went viral, and at 10 million views in a month, is the most viewed of the season so far. You need to watch this raw, emotional performance below but make sure you have a hankie before you press play.
The show is still in the auditions phase with thousands of contestants hoping to make it through to the live shows. Iam is no stranger to the heartbreak of not being successful. His dad took him to previous audition but the judges did not put him through. His Dad gave him some tough love after they got home. “He was like ‘Son. I need to talk to you. You need to work on your music.” remembers Iam.
It would be nice to say his father’s words spurred Iam on to his current success but sadly there is more to the tale. Tragically his dad Rodney, who had always been Iam greatest inspiration and cheerleader, passed away a few months before Iam auditioned a second time.
Iam is clearly devastated at his father’s passing and breaks down as he tells the judges, Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan about it. They are all clearly moved and offer him a moment to collect himself.
Lionel wisely says, “When you love so deeply, you feel so deeply.” He chose James Blunt’s Monsters as his audition piece as the song as its theme is a man saying goodbye to his dying father.The song is beautiful on its own, but Iam’s grief at the loss of his dad made it gut-wrenching to listen to. When you watch the video of his audition you can see that there’s not a dry eye in the house as sings.
All three of the judges seem on the edge of losing their composure throughout. Luke Bryan is seen wiping his eyes throughout. When the song ends Luke explains that his heart broke watching him. He recently took his nephew in following the death of his dad and he found it so difficult to see that grief and loss on the stage before him. No one could possibly disagree when he said this loss just sucks.
It came as no surprise when Iam got a standing ovation from the judges. When the time came to vote it was a unanimous and resounding yes. In a lovely moment Katy said, “This one’s for Rodney, it’s a yes.” This is an incredible audition so all we can do is wait and see what Iam does in the next round. If you would like to see more from Iam Tongi, you can subscribe to his Spotify or follow him on Instagram.