‘American Idol’ contestant Iam Tongi honors mom with stirring performance of Alanis Morissette song
Iam Tongi earned another round of raves from the judges of "American Idol" this week when he performed a stirring rendition of Alanis Morissette's "Guardian" in honor of his mom.
The 18-year-old high school student from Kahuku, Hawaii, won a spot in the show's Top 5 with his performance, which took place on the ABC singing competition's May 7 episode.
Morissette and Ed Sheeran joined Luke Bryan as guest judges on the show, which this week featured the competition's singers performing Morissette's hits. Bryan's co-judges Lionel Richie and Katy Perry were in England to perform as part of the celebration for King Charles III's coronation.
Morissette also acted as a mentor to the contestants prior to their performances.
In footage airing just before his performance, Tongi told the show's producers, "I want to make Alanis proud but I mostly want to make my mom proud because this song is about her, to her."
Tongi's mom and siblings sat in the audience as Tongi belted out the song’s lyrics, which tell the story of a person caring for a loved one who’s “soldiered” through difficult times. His signature soulful, raspy voice filled each line with emotion.
"I’ll be your keeper for life as your guardian/ I’ll be your warrior of care, your first warden/ I’ll be your angel on call, I’ll be on demand/ The greatest honor of all, as your guardian,” he sang as he strummed his acoustic guitar.
"Love you, Mom," Tongi said when he was finished.
Morissette, Sheeran and Bryan all praised Tongi's performance.
"You took what we shared and brainstormed together to a whole other level," said Morissette, who noted how the "empathy" in Tongi's voice made the song that much richer.
"I just felt like you really connected with the song and that then makes us as listeners connect with it. It's just really, really beautiful," said Sheeran.
Bryan told the teen, "Great job, man. You just always light the room up."
Week after week, Tongi has wowed Richie, Perry and Bryan. Last week, the trio gave the singer a standing ovation after he performed Sam Cooke’s R&B classic “Bring It On Home To Me."
Viewers learned early on in the season that Tongi's dad had become ill and died in recent years, leaving the teen emotionally devastated.
“When Iam’s dad passed away, he didn’t want to sing anymore,” Tongi’s mom revealed in an early episode. “He kept saying that every time he sings, he can hear his dad back him up.”
Tongi's mom said she told her son that it was “beautiful” that he could still hear his dad sing with him, which helped him be able to continue to perform. “He has come so far and I’m proud of him,” she gushed. “And I know his dad is super proud.”
In addition to the performance of "Guardian" on the May 7 episode, Tongi also joined fellow contestant Oliver Steele for a rendition of Sheeran's "Photograph."
This article was originally published on TODAY.com