American Idol’s Iam Tongi and Oliver Steele Share Emotional Duet at Memorial Service

Key Takeaways:

– Iam Tongi, American Idol Season 21 winner, attends the funeral of fellow contestant Oliver Steele’s father, performing a moving duet.
– Their song of choice was James Blunt’s “Monsters,” significant as it rocketed Tongi to fame and draws on the theme of paternal love and loss.
– Tongi and Steele cultivated a deep friendship on American Idol, united by their fathers’ health hardships.
– The emotionally-charged duet received extensive praise and messages of condolence from fans and fellow American Idol participants.

American Idol’s Season 21 victor, Iam Tongi, and fellow contestant Oliver Steele shared an intensely poignant moment during the memorial service for Steele’s recently deceased father. The service took place on May 1, 2024, following the death of Toby Steele, a respected musician, who passed away at 59 years old on April 15, 2024.

Partners in Grief and Music

Tongi, originating from Hawaii, forged a strong relationship with Nashville-based Steele on the American Idol stage. Their shared experience of facing their father’s health struggles built an enduring bond, which they characterized as “kindred spirits.” This bond was underlined during the memorial service as they performed a heartfelt duet.

The selected song, James Blunt’s anthem “Monsters,” specifically resonated with their shared experience. Popularized by Tongi during his Idol audition, the emotional ballad embodies the sentiments of love and loss between fathers and sons.

Speaking on Instagram, Steele expressed gratitude towards Tongi: “Having @wtongi there to stand beside me helped me stay strong for my father.”

Beyond the Stage

The bond between Tongi and Steele goes beyond their shared musical talent. Tongi had barely contained his tears at his audition, revealing that his father had died from kidney failure only a year before his Idol journey began at the age of 17.

In a similar vein, Steele’s first introduction to the show’s fans was accompanied by a heartfelt tribute to his father. Toby Steele, an exceptional blues guitarist, songwriter, and singer had suffered a stroke that impacted the left side of his body. Representing his father’s enduring musical spirit, Oliver auditioned for the season while pushing his wheelchair-bound father.

The Kindred Spirits

Throughout the competition, Tongi was often seen connecting with Toby Steele over phone calls, looking to boost his morale. His dedication and appreciation were reciprocated, with Steele senior considering Tongi as a second son, as noted in Oliver Steele’s emotional Instagram tribute.

Stream of Condolences

Emotions ran high as the pair performed their heartfelt rendition of “Monsters,” leaving a clear impact on the audience. Oliver’s online post about the memorial service was quickly flooded with messages of condolences and commendations from fans. These touching messages showed the deep impact the televised friendship had not just on the participants but also on the viewers.

The love was not only from fans but extended to fellow American Idol alumni who took to social media to show their support. Finalist from season 21, Wé Ani, expressed his happiness for Steele and Tongi’s shared support in times of grief.

As the American Idol family rallied around Steele during this emotional time, Tongi reposted his friend’s tribute, expressing his love for Toby Steele. This heartwarming display of camaraderie exemplifies the strength of their bond, formed on the Idol stage but transcending it to offer comfort and companionship in times of shared loss and grief.



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