On December 1, Tongi released several covers from his “Acoustic Sessions” in-studio recording. He features covers of classic Israel Kamakawiwoʻole songs such as “Over The Rainbow” and “Starting All Over Again.” But perhaps the most meaningful song to Tongi that he covers is “The Dance.”
For Tongi, “The Dance” is more than just another cover. It’s an opportunity for him to reconnect to his late father. “I chose to do a cover of “The Dance” because my dad really wanted me to learn this song. He was a true country music fan, and so am I,” Tongi shared with Music Mayhem.
“This song holds a special place in my heart as it was one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar, with my father by my side. We would harmonize together, creating beautiful memories through music that I treasure so much now that he has passed,” Tongi says.
Fans React To Iam Tongi’s Acoustic Cover of “The Dance”
In the comments section underneath Tongi’s video, fans have offered up plenty of praise for the 19-year-old singer. Many comments note Tongi’s ability to offer a calming and soothing vibe throughout his music.
“You do have a wonderfully comforting voice. Thank you for sharing your gift with us!” wrote one fan.
“Iam has the best and clearest voice I’ve ever heard !! Every word and lyric sounds absolutely beautiful,” chimed in another fan.
For some fans, Tongi has been able to connect to them on a much deeper level. To some, Iam Tongi’s cover of “The Dance” offers them a chance to reflect on their own lives.
“Iam️, you have no idea how much your voice changed my life. Something so soft and comforting, something I haven’t felt often in my life. I had my son around the same time season 21 of American Idol was filmed, your compassion for your father taught me more than you’ll ever know️. Thank you, Iam Tongi,” wrote a fan in an emotional comment.
“Today is the 3-year anniversary of my dad’s passing and in that time your voice and songs have brought such comfort to me. How fitting for you to release this new cover,” added another fan.
From Ordinary Teenager to ‘American Idol Winner’
In the days after his shocking “American Idol” win, Tongi had time to reflect on his experience. The Hawaii-born performer spoke about how his mother was a big reason for his success. While speaking to NPR, Tongi credits his mom with giving him the push that he needed.
“My mom just signed me up, and then she was telling me to practice. And I told her there’s no need for me to practice because, like, the only reason why I did it was for my dad,” Tongi revealed. “She was like, well, I signed you up for “American Idol.” I was telling her, Mom, I don’t want to do it. And she’s like, too late, I already did. I was like, oh, shoot. So that really got me up to try out, and I’m glad I did.”
In an interview with KITV4, Tongi shared a bit of advice for anyone hesitant to chase their dreams. “You can’t be afraid, you can’t be ashamed to do things,” Tongi told KITV4. “You can’t be prideful, you gotta go and do your best and put yourself out there and see what happens. Don’t let people tell you you can’t do anything.”
In the end, Tongi says that his “American Idol” journey was about more than just himself. To him, his victory was a victory for his home. Which is why he sang Kolohe Kai’s “Cool Down” during his final performance. “I wanted to represent the islands, and represent where I’m from, people in Hawaii,” he said.
Iam Tongi’s cover of “The Dance” is available to stream on Spotify.