‘So grateful’: Hawaii award-winning artist shares her humble beginnings on American Idol

Paula Fuga says she’s grateful for the experience because it turned her into the artist she is today.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 8:37 AM HST|Updated: May. 16, 2023 at 10:39 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With all eyes on Hawaii’s Iam Tongi and two other finalists in American Idol’s season finale, Hawaii Idols who are now successful artists are reflecting on their humble beginnings with the singing competition.

Among them is Paula Fuga, a Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning singer-songwriter and Hawaii’s female vocalist of 2022.

Check out Fuga’s bittersweet audition from 2004:

Nearly 20 years ago Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell all voted “no” to send Fuga to Hollywood.

And although she didn’t get to rock the big stage, Fuga said she’s grateful for the experience because it turned her into the artist she is today.

“Everything definitely happens for a reason and I am so grateful for the way things unfolded,” she said in her Instagram post. “Pretty awesome to hear and see my growth!”


This includes multiple Na Hoku Hano Hano awards and regularly collaborating with other incredible artists, including Jack Johnson, Aulii Cravahlo and more.

In that same post, Fuga included a clip of her tribute show to Aretha Franklin on Maui where she sang the same song from American Idol.

Her message to anyone with massive dreams or goals?

Keep pursuing your dreams until you achieve them! Set goals, take lessons, strengthen your talents and natural abilities to be your best self! Surround yourself with people who encourage and motivate you to be better, to continue to grow, strive and learn everyday!