That song you liked on ‘American Idol’ finale? A Kansas City area musician wrote it
A Kansas City area songwriter can now boast that one of his creations made Katy Perry swoon.
On his way to being crowned the new “American Idol” this past week, high school student Iam Tongi went home to Hawaii and sang for a hometown crowd. Judges Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan went, too.
Tongi performed “Don’t Let Go,” written by Independence songwriter/musician Anapogi Fau, who performs what he calls “island hip-hop” as “Spawnbreezie.”
The song begins with this bittersweet plea:
“Take my hand and don’t let go. I’m addicted to your lovin’.
“But if you should know, how my love goes., baby stay close.”
Tongi barely got the first two lines out when Richie smiled, clapped and let out a whoop. Dreamy-eyed Perry, sitting next to him, looked like she was falling in love.
“I just love it!” Richie shouted.
When Tongi reached the chorus, all three judges jumped to their feet.
Fau posted a video for the song, from third solo album “Dear Billy,” on YouTube in 2012. It became a favorite with his fans.
New ones have found it over the last few weeks thanks to “American Idol,” where Tongi performed it last month in that episode in Hawaii and again to celebrate his win.
As of Friday afternoon the video had close to 15 million page views. (The Star couldn’t catch up with the busy musician this week.)
The name Spawnbreezie popped up in reports from CNN and NBC’s “Today” show to British tabloids that credited him as the songwriter.
Fau is well known in Kansas City’s Samoan/Polynesian community, which hosts the 21st annual Island Fest from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at 114 W. Maple Ave. in Independence.
After more than 15 years as a solo artist, his fan base stretches around the world; so do his tour dates.
Fans who followed Tongi on “American Idol” appreciated that he performed songs by other Pacific Islander artists when, as one noted on Facebook, it might have been “safer” to perform more mainstream music.
“But he chose to bring his community with him,” wrote a fan named Kalani Tonga. “This is what it looks like to embody the idea that when one of us wins, we all win. What a good dude.”
Fau posted a video on Facebook congratulating the young “American Idol” champ and thanking him “for what you do for us all.”
“Very much well-deserved,” Fau said. “It was incredible to watch and witness this part of your musical adventure. I’m extremely humbled and honored, but more so proud to have seen you, not only take a particular record, but represented our people on such a major platform as you have.”