Danny Gokey

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Danny Gokey
Danny Gokey.jpg
Gokey in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 8, 2009.
Background information
Birth name Daniel Jay Gokey
Born (1980-04-24) April 24, 1980 (age 33)
Origin Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Genres Country, CCM, blue-eyed soul, country pop
Occupations Singer-songwriter, church music director
Instruments Vocals, acoustic guitar, piano
Years active 2008–present
Labels 19 (2009-present)
RCA Nashville (2009-2011)
Associated acts Sugarland
Website Official site

Daniel Jay "Danny" Gokey (born April 24, 1980) is an American singer and former church music director from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the third place finalist on the eighth season of American Idol.[1][2] After his placing on the show, Gokey signed to 19 Recordings and RCA Records Nashville at the beginning of a career in country music, releasing the single "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me". His debut album, My Best Days, was released in March 2010.

Early life[edit]

Gokey started singing with his family in church, but stated he would rather record mainstream music than perform solely contemporary Christian music. He was the worship director at his church in Milwaukee, Faith Builders International Ministries, for several years.[3]

He is the fifth of six children. He has a brother, Charles, and four sisters, Angela, Janel, Gina, and Traci .[4][5]

He has acknowledged the influence of Jeffrey and Robin Pruitt the pastors of the church he worked at and also Matthew Barnett the founder of the LA Dream Center. He has stated that his faith is the "key to who I am."[6] Gokey was a church music director while also driving a semi truck (18 wheeler) for a local logistics company for two years.[citation needed].

American Idol[edit]


Gokey rose to national fame with his participation in the eighth season of American Idol. On August 8, 2008, he auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri, along with his friend Jamar Rogers, who he met in Milwaukee.[citation needed] Both made it through to Hollywood, but Rogers was eliminated from the competition prior to the semifinals.[citation needed] (Rogers later appeared on the second season of NBC's The Voice.) Gokey's American Idol audition occurred only four weeks after his wife's death in July 2008.[7]

During Rock Week (Top 4 week), Gokey's take on Aerosmith's "Dream On" was panned for the extended scream with which he finished the song.[8] Gokey was eliminated during Top 3 week, after his performance of Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful."

During the season 8 finale on May 20, 2009, Gokey performed a duet with R&B superstar Lionel Richie. The performance opened with Gokey singing a true-to-the-original soulful ballad solo of Richie's "Hello," and then Richie joined Gokey for a duet of his hits "Just Go" and "All Night Long".[9]


Week # Theme Song choice Theme-related artist Order # Result
Audition Auditioner's Choice "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" Marvin Gaye N/A Advanced
Hollywood First Solo "Kiss from a Rose" Seal N/A Advanced
Hollywood Group Performance "Somebody to Love" Queen N/A Advanced
Hollywood Second Solo "I Hope You Dance" Lee Ann Womack N/A Advanced
Top 36/
Semi-Final 1
Billboard Hot 100 Hits to Date "Hero" Mariah Carey 12 Advanced
Top 13 Michael Jackson "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" Michael Jackson 3 Safe
Top 11 Grand Ole Opry "Jesus, Take the Wheel" Carrie Underwood 8 Safe
Top 10 Motown "Get Ready" The Temptations 9 Safe
Top 9 Top Downloads "What Hurts the Most" Rascal Flatts 3 Safe
Top 8 Year They Were Born "Stand by Me" Mickey Gilley 1 Safe
Top 7 Songs from the Cinema "Endless Love" – Endless Love Diana Ross & Lionel Richie 5 Safe
Top 7 1 Disco "September" Earth, Wind & Fire 3 Safe
Top 5 Rat Pack Standards "Come Rain or Come Shine"
Frank Sinatra 4 Safe

(Top 2)

Top 4 Rock and roll Duet
"Renegade" with Kris Allen
"Dream On"
Safe 2
Top 3 Judge's Choice (Paula Abdul)
Contestant's Choice
"Dance Little Sister"
"You Are So Beautiful"
Terence Trent D’Arby
Billy Preston

  • ^1 Due to the judges using their one save to save Matt Giraud, the Top 7 remained intact for another week.
  • ^2 It was only announced that Allison Iraheta received the lowest number of votes this week. The other member(s) of the bottom two or three were never revealed.

Post-Idol career[edit]

Gokey in April 2010

Gokey was nominated in his state of Wisconsin for a WAMI (Wisconsin Area Music Industry) Award for Best Christian/Gospel Artist of the Year.[10]

As of September 2009, Gokey has finished his tour with the other idols on the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2009, and he is also working on his foundation, Sophia's Heart, which was set up to help disadvantaged children.[11]

Gokey, known for his many pairs of eyeglasses that he often wore on the show, has stated he may start an eyewear line to help raise funds for his foundation.[12] In 2012 he released his eyewear collection.[13]

My Best Days (2009–2010)[edit]

On September 1, 2009, Gokey signed with 19 Recordings/RCA Nashville, becoming the first third place finisher to record with 19 and the first male Idol to be signed to a major country label.[14] On November 19, 2009, 19 Recordings and RCA Records announced the release of the debut single "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me".[15] Gokey's debut album, My Best Days, was released on March 2, 2010. It debuted on the Billboard charts at number four, and it nets Gokey the best opening-week sales by a debut country male in 18 years. Gokey also has the highest debut of digital downloads sold by any new country artist ever.[16] In support of the album, Gokey will be the opening act on Sugarland's Incredible Machine tour which began in April.[17] Gokey also performed at country singer Darryl Worley's ninth annual Tennessee River Run festival in Savannah, Tennessee along with other artists such as Joe Diffie and Lee Brice. The event helped raise $200,000 for the Darryl Worley Foundation.[18]

On October 18, 2010, Gokey earned a nomination for Best New/Breakthrough Artist at the first annual American Country Awards. He revealed in an interview released on October 26, 2010, that he had recently recorded his own version of the Amy Grant song, "Tennessee Christmas," to be released to country radio as a holiday single.[citation needed].

On November 21, 2010, Gokey was a part of ABC's pre-show event at the American Music Awards.[19]

Second studio album (2011–present)[edit]

Gokey released the single "Second Hand Heart" on July 4, 2011. As of July 15, 2011, the song has sold 8,000 copies.[20]

He was one of opening acts on Taylor Swift's Speak Now World Tour.[21] He also made an appearance in a TV movie with Candace Cameron Bure called Truth Be Told.[22][23][24][25]

Gokey left RCA Nashville in November 2011.[26]

Gokey released his EP "Love Again" in May 2012.[27] It was self-released limitedly via his official website only as CD format.

Gokey kicked off 2014 with the release of his new single “Hope in Front of Me” by BMG/Chrysalis. The song shares its name with Gokey’s inspirational memoir "Hope In Front Of Me" which was released on October 1, 2013.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Gokey married his high school sweetheart, Sophia Martinez, on May 15, 2004.[29] The two had been together since 1997.

On July 9, 2008,[30][31] four weeks before he auditioned for American Idol, Gokey's wife died from complications of a routine surgery for congenital heart disease.[32][33] It was her third surgery, but she died from complications.[32][34] The couple had been together for 12 years, and Gokey credited her for his success.[35] Sophia was a fan of American Idol and encouraged Gokey to be a contestant,[32] and Danny started a foundation in her name Sophia's Heart Foundation[36] with some of her family members who are also musicians. The foundation exists to help mend and heal the hearts of children and families who have been touched by poverty, sickness, disease, broken homes and broken dreams.[37]

In 2011, Gokey began dating Leyicet Peralta. The two announced their engagement on December 25, 2011 on the Sophia's Heart website.[38] They were married on January 29, 2012.[39] Their son Daniel Emanuel was born January 20, 2013.[40]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Result
2009 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Best Christian/Gospel Artist of the Year Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Summer Tour (with American Idol Top 10) Nominated
2010 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Male Vocalist of the Year Won [41]
American Country Awards New/Breakthrough Artist of the Year Nominated


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart
US Country
My Best Days 3 4
  • US sales: 204,000[44]


Year Single Peak chart
US Country
US Christian
Christian Airplay
US Christian AC
2009 "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me" 24 82 My Best Days
2010 "I Will Not Say Goodbye" 32
2010 "Tennessee Christmas" Holiday single
2011 "Second Hand Heart" 48 Love Again EP
2014 "Hope in Front of Me" 31 23 27 Hope in Front of Me

Other charted songs[edit]

Year Single Peak positions Album
US Bubbling
2009 "You Are So Beautiful" 25 Non-album song

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
2010 "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me"[49] Wes Edwards
"I Will Not Say Goodbye"[50]


  1. ^ Danny Gokey: 'Idol's New Hero.
  2. ^ "Introducing Danny Gokey: Get to know Hollywood Hopeful Danny Gokey." American Idol.
  3. ^ "American Idol finalists are church worship leaders" Associated Press via WNCT, February 20, 2009.
  4. ^ "Danny Gokey Biography". Tvguide.com. 1980-04-24. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  5. ^ "American Idol Top 36: Danny Gokey" by Leslie Anne Wiggins, WITI-TV FOX 6,
  6. ^ "Milwaukee's Gokey wows judges, makes 'Idol' finals" Tim Cuprisin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 18, 2009.
  7. ^ "Danny Gokey — "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" Audition — American Idol 8 : American Idol 9 –". Rickey.org. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  8. ^ "'American Idol' Rock Week Makes Us Scream On Like Danny Gokey". Retrieved 2009-05-08. 
  9. ^ "Top 2: Lionel Ritchie and Danny Gokey jam – The Marquee Blog – CNN.com Blogs". Marquee.blogs.cnn.com. May 20, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  10. ^ Danny Gokey: East Troy Singer Beats Danny R. Gokey at WAMI Awards
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "American Idol's Danny Gokey Sees Rosy Future in Glasses". E! Online. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  13. ^ Shapiro, Rachel (March 26, 2012). "The Season 8 finalist promoted his new line of fashionable frames in New York on March 24.". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  14. ^ "News : American Idol's Danny Gokey Signs to 19 Recordings/RCA Nashville". CMT. 2009-09-02. Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  15. ^ Mansfield, Brian (2009-11-19). "Danny Gokey switches singles". USA Today. Retrieved November 20, 2009. 
  16. ^ Danny Gokey Makes Chart History with Debut Album!
  17. ^ Gokey to tour with Sugarland
  18. ^ "Darry Worley's Tennessee River Raises $200,000". Country Music Television. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  19. ^ "Danny Gokey, Jennette McCurdy to Host AMA Red Carpet". The Boot. 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  20. ^ USA Today. July 15, 2011 http://content.usatoday.com/communities/idolchatter/post/2011/07/country-dominates-weeks-idol-track-sales/1 |url= missing title (help). 
  21. ^ Mansfield, Brian (March 3, 2011). "Danny Gokey added to Taylor Swift's summer tour". USA Today. 
  22. ^ https://twitter.com/#!/dannygokey/status/30029719965536258
  23. ^ https://twitter.com/#!/candacecbure/status/29936430830583809
  24. ^ https://twitter.com/#!/candacecbure/status/30001425270444032
  25. ^ http://tasteofcountry.com/danny-gokey-truth-be-told-movie-appearance/
  26. ^ Thompson, Gayle (21 November 2011). "Danny Gokey Parts Ways With RCA Records". The Boot. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  27. ^ Mansfield, Brian (December 16, 2010). "Danny Gokey planning new single for early 2011". USA Today. 
  28. ^ http://www.christianactivities.com/american-idols-danny-gokey-releases-new-single-hope-front-me.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ Lamb, Bill (2009). "Danny Gokey". About.com. Retrieved December 28, 2011. 
  30. ^ Social Security Death Index
  31. ^ "'Sophia Linnette Gokey Obituary'" Church and Chapel Funeral Services, July 2004.
  32. ^ a b c "Milwaukee man says he's prepared to give his all to make 'Idol' finals" by Tim Cuprisin, Feb. 13, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  33. ^ "'Idol's grieving Danny Gokey hopes to lighten up" Jill Serjeant, Feb 19, 2009, Reuters.
  34. ^ "American Idol Selects First Three Finalists", AP story run in the New York Times.
  35. ^ "‘Idol’s’ Danny Gokey: My Wife ‘Is The Reason For My Success’" Access Hollywood, February 20, 2009.
  36. ^ "Danny Gokey Photo Gallery" WITI February 18, 2009
  37. ^ "Sophia's Heart". Retrieved 21 May 2011. 
  38. ^ "'Latest News: Danny & Leyicet Engagement Announcement'" Sophia's Heart, December 25, 2011.
  39. ^ [2]
  40. ^ O'Donnell, Kevin (January 21, 2013). "Danny Gokey Welcomes Son Daniel Emanuel". People. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  41. ^ "WAMI Award Winners". The Post Crescent. April 13, 2010. p. A-6. Retrieved 5 June 2010. [dead link]
  42. ^ "Danny Gokey Album & Song Chart History - Country Albums". Billboard. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  43. ^ "Danny Gokey Album & Song Chart History - Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  44. ^ Mansfield, Brian (March 16, 2010). "Adam Lambert EP sales rise 2,000% after 'Idol' appearance". USA Today. 
  45. ^ "Danny Gokey Album & Song Chart History - Country Songs". Billboard. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  46. ^ "Danny Gokey Album & Song Chart History - Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  47. ^ http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/idol-worship/american-idol-charts-phillip-phillips-693881
  48. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 363. ISBN 0-89820-188-8. 
  49. ^ "CMT : Videos : Danny Gokey : My Best Days Are Ahead of Me". Country Music Television. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 
  50. ^ "CMT : Videos : Danny Gokey : I Will Not Say Goodbye (Short Version)". Country Music Television. Retrieved October 6, 2010. 

External links[edit]