Thousands flock to Oahu’s North Shore for homecoming celebration honoring Iam Tongi

As thousands flocked to Oahu's North Shore, Tongi even shared the stage with Hawaii music icons Paula Fuga and Jack Johnson.
Published: May. 16, 2023 at 4:55 PM HST|Updated: May. 17, 2023 at 4:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands gathered on Oahu’s North Shore on Tuesday to celebrate Hawaii’s own Iam Tongi, the 18-year-old Kahuku native and newly-minted “American Idol” finalist.

He made it into the top three of the show with two soulful performances: “Lava” and “Father and Son.”

Tongi, who has captivated the nation, is on island for the show’s “hometown visit.”

Thousands flocked to Oahu's North Shore to watch the "American Idol" star.

But before the concert was a nostalgic journey through his hometown.

He left Laie around 4 p.m. in a convoy. Hundreds gathered outside the Polynesian Cultural Center as the Tongi started the nearly 6-mile journey to Turtle Bay.

“It’s crazy,” Tongi said. “I love all the support!”

The world was first introduced to Iam Tongi back in February. His audition went viral and he immediately become a fan favorite.

It wasn’t just his beautiful voice but his emotional story that brought the judges to tears. Tongi dedicated his songs to his late father who sparked his love of music.

Tongi and his family now live in Seattle after he says he was “priced out of paradise.”

Back at home for the first time since departing Hawaii, Kahuku High presented Tongi with a honorary degree and a special haka performance from fellow students on Monday.

He was greeted by high school students, aunties and uncles, people who say they are proud of Tongi’s achievements.

One woman from Ewa Beach told us she left her house at 7:30 a.m. to make sure would be able to see Tongi.

“I mean, he’s just, he’s giving the aloha away, you know,” she said. “He’s showing all the aloha in like, the entire world.”

Tuesday night was full of chicken-skin moments.

Hundreds including a star-studded lineup of local musicians like Jack Johnson, John Cruz and Paula Fuga celebrated the rising star.

Tongi’s mom, Lillie, says she’s grateful for the outpouring of support.

“I just feel beyond blessed. Never expected him to be this. But I’m grateful that everybody shows so much love,” she said.

Tongi sang several island favorites but the one that blew the crowd away and brought some to tears was the song that kicked off his American Idol Journey, “Monsters” by James Blunt — a song he sang in tribute to his late father Rodney.

You know the doors open for me because of my experience on American Idol,” Fuga recalled. “I just think it’s really cool that he’s made it all the way to the final three and that we get to come together and celebrate him.”

Organizers were able to pull of the concert in a matter of days. Gov. Josh Green was also present and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi declared May 16 as Iam Tongi Day!

After all the excitement, it all comes down to a three-hour finale of American Idol this Sunday.

Tongi is hoping all of the fans who showed up on Tuesday and shared their aloha across the nation will help push him through to the number one spot.