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

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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.

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