Iam Tongi, the most recent champion of the widely acclaimed singing contest American Idol, captivated both judges and audience alike with his commanding voice and poignant performances. Despite his triumph, a somber tale of sorrow and bereavement shadows his path to success.

Iam’s father, Rodney Guy Tongi, succumbed to kidney failure mere months before his son’s audition for the show. Let’s delve into the details of his father’s life and explore the profound impact he had on shaping his son’s musical odyssey.

Rodney Guy Tongi: A Loving Father and a Music Lover

Rodney Guy Tongi, father to Iam Tongi and his two siblings, Isaiah and Isabella, was married to Lillie Tongi, a strong supporter of her son’s aspirations to become a singer. Rodney, a true aficionado of music, exposed Iam to diverse genres and artists. Their shared love for music led to collaborative performances, with Rodney imparting the skill of harmonization to his son. Their joint singing sessions were documented in numerous videos, amassing millions of views on YouTube.

While not without flaws, Rodney, as reported by Heavy.com, was an imperfect yet devoted father who valued honesty and showered unconditional love upon his son. With high expectations for Iam, Rodney motivated him to dedicate time to practice and refine his musical talents. Prior to his passing, Rodney shared his vision for Iam’s future music career, leaving an enduring impact on his son’s journey.

Kidney Failure: The Cause of Rodney Guy Tongi’s Death

Rodney Guy Tongi grappled with kidney failure, a condition marked by the kidneys losing their ability to effectively filter waste and fluid from the blood. This impairment can result in complications such as high blood pressure, anemia, bone disease, and heart issues. Genius Celebs reports that Rodney underwent dialysis, a treatment aimed at extracting excess fluid and waste from the blood using either a machine or a catheter.

Regrettably, despite undergoing dialysis, Rodney’s life could not be prolonged. He passed away in December 2021, just before Iam’s second audition for American Idol. Iam had previously attempted in 2020 but didn’t advance past the virtual rounds to perform for the judges. Rodney had persistently encouraged his son to give it another shot, emphasizing that it was a pursuit aligned with Iam’s own desires.

Iam Tongi: A Tribute to His Dad Through Music

Iam Tongi’s father served as his primary source of inspiration and motivation to pursue a career in music. Following his father’s passing, Iam temporarily halted his singing endeavors, finding the emotional weight too burdensome without his dad’s presence. He believed he could hear his father supporting him every time he sang. In 2021, Iam’s mother, Lillie, encouraged him to audition for American Idol once again, emphasizing the beauty in being able to hear his father’s influence.

Throughout the competition, Iam paid heartfelt tribute to his late father by dedicating several performances. His vocals carried the poignant echoes of grief, and he openly shared his emotional journey on the show. In a moving audition, he performed James Blunt’s “Monsters,” a song depicting a son bidding farewell to his father, leaving judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan in tears.

In another episode, Iam sang “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, noting it as one of his father’s favorite songs. He also unveiled “I’ll Be Seeing You,” an original composition reflecting on the experience of losing a loved one. The song expresses how he perceives his father’s presence wherever he goes and how their connection endures.

Iam Tongi clinched the title of American Idol Season 21 on May 21, 2023, surpassing competitors Willie Spence and Grace Kinstler in the finale. He described winning the show as a realization of both his and his father’s dreams. Throughout the journey, he felt a profound sense of his father’s companionship, sensing that they had traversed the world together through the medium of music.