Gokey in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 8, 2009
|Birth name||Daniel Jay Gokey|
|Born||April 24, 1980|
|Origin||Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States|
|Instruments||Vocals, acoustic guitar, piano|
|Labels||19 / RCA Nashville, BMG|
Daniel Jay 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. After his placing on the show, Gokey signed to 19 Recordings and RCA 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.
After leaving RCA Nashville in November 2011, he gravitated his music towards an adult pop/contemporary Christian sound and subsequently made a record/publishing deal with BMG in May 2013. His second full-length album, Hope in Front of Me, was released in June 2014.
Gokey attended Heritage Christian Schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He started singing with his family in church, but stated he would rather record mainstream music than perform solely Christian/gospel music. He was the worship director at his church in Milwaukee, Faith Builders International Ministries, for several years.
He has acknowledged the influence of Jeffrey and Robin Pruitt, who are 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". Gokey was a church music director, while also driving a semi truck (18 wheeler) for a local logistics company for two years.
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, whom he met in Milwaukee. Both made it through to Hollywood, but Rogers was eliminated from the competition prior to the semifinals. (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.
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. Gokey was the only contestant in that season who was never in the bottom two or three, but he was eliminated in third place on May 13, 2009, 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".
As of September 2009, Gokey finished his tour with the other idols on the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2009, and he worked on his foundation, Sophia's Heart, which was set up to help disadvantaged children.
Gokey, known for his many pairs of eyeglasses that he often wore on the show, had stated he might start an eyewear line to help raise funds for his foundation and Match Eyewear teamed with him for the Danny Gokey Eyewear collection. Launched in March 2012, the collection has exceeded sales projections with over 1.7 million in net retail sales.
2009–2010: My Best Days
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. On November 19, 2009, 19 Recordings and RCA Records announced the release of the debut single "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me". Gokey's debut album, My Best Days, was released on March 2, 2010. It debuted on the Billboard charts at number four, and it netted Gokey the best opening-week sales by a debut country male in 18 years and the highest debut of digital downloads sold by any new country artist ever. In support of the album, Gokey was the opening act on Sugarland's Incredible Machine tour which began in April. 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.
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.
2011–2013: Love Again and label change
Gokey released the single "Second Hand Heart" penned by Cary Barlowe, Shane Stevens and Josh Kear on July 4, 2011. He was one of opening acts on Taylor Swift's Speak Now World Tour. He also made an appearance in a TV movie with Candace Cameron Bure called Truth Be Told.
Gokey left RCA Nashville in November 2011.
Gokey released his EP Love Again in May 2012. It was self-released limitedly via his official website only as physical CD format. His memoir, Hope in Front of Me: Find Purpose in Your Darkest Moments, was published on October 1, 2013.
2014–present: Hope in Front of Me, Christmas Is Here and Rise
In late August, "Hope in Front of Me" topped both the Billboard Christian Airplay chart (lasted 3 weeks) and Mediabase Christian Adult Contemporary chart. For the week ending of September 20, it also topped the Billboard Christian AC Songs chart.
On December 5, the official lyric video for the second single "More Than You Think I Am" was released.
In July, "More Than You Think I Am" peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Christian Airplay chart. In August, Gokey earned nominations for New Artist of the Year and Song of the Year for "Hope in Front of Me" at 46th GMA Dove Awards.
On September 25, Gokey released the lead single "Lift Up Your Eyes" from his holiday album, Christmas Is Here, which was released on October 16. In October, Gokey joined NewSong's Beating Hearts Tour with Mandisa. In December, Gokey joined the 2015 K-LOVE Christmas Tour as a special guest.
In February and March 2016, Gokey was a part of the Rock & Worship Roadshow Tour 2016. The official music video for "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again", the third single from Hope in Front of Me, premiered at K-LOVE online on March 28. On May 6, Tell Your Heart to Beat Again was released as an EP at digital retailers. On June 5, Gokey won Male Artist of the Year and Breakout Single for "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again" at the 4th annual K-LOVE Fan Awards.
Gokey married his high school sweetheart, Sophia Martinez, on May 15, 2004. The two had been together since 1997.
On July 9, 2008, four weeks before he auditioned for American Idol, Gokey's wife died from complications during her third surgery to treat her congenital heart disease. The couple had been together for 12 years, and Gokey credited her for his success. Sophia was a fan of American Idol and encouraged Gokey to be a contestant, and Danny started a foundation in her name, Sophia's Heart Foundation, with some of her family members who are also musicians. With branches in Milwaukee, Nashville and Sacramento, the organization's goals are to provide hope and help to homeless families, provide scholarships to deserving students and operate a thriving inner-city music and arts program.
In 2011, Gokey began dating Leyicet Peralta. The two announced their engagement on December 25, 2011 on the Sophia's Heart website. They were married on January 29, 2012. Their son Daniel Emanuel was born on January 20, 2013. Their daughter Victoria Isabella was born on November 28, 2014. Their son Gabriel Daniel was born on August 29, 2017. On Aug 16, 2019, their fourth child, Emmanuel, was born on the birthday of Danny's first wife.
Awards and nominations
|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 |
|American Country Awards||New/Breakthrough Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|2015||GMA Dove Awards||New Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Song of the Year (for "Hope in Front of Me")||Nominated|
|2016||GMA Dove Awards||Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year (for "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again")||Nominated|
|Christmas Album of the Year (for "Christmas Is Here")||Won|
|Short Form Video of the Year (for "Tell Your Heart to Beat Again")||Nominated|
|2017||GMA Dove Awards||Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year (for "Rise")||Nominated|
|Grammy Awards||Best Contemporary Christian Music Album||Nominated|
|2019||K-LOVE Fan Awards||Male Artist of the Year||Won |
- My Best Days (2010)
- Hope in Front of Me (2014)
- Christmas Is Here (2015)
- La Esperanza Frente a Mi (2016)
- Rise (2017)
- Haven't Seen It Yet (2019)
- The Greatest Gift: A Christmas Collection (2019)
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- "American Idol finalists are church worship leaders" Associated Press via WNCT, February 20, 2009. Archived April 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
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- "Darryl Worley's Tennessee River Raises $200,000". Country Music Television. September 27, 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2010.
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- "Danny Gokey to Appear in New Movie Truth Be Told". Taste of Country. February 2, 2011.
- Thompson, Gayle (November 21, 2011). "Danny Gokey Parts Ways With RCA Records". The Boot. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
- Mansfield, Brian (December 16, 2010). "Danny Gokey planning new single for early 2011". USA Today.
- "Hope In Front of Me: Find Purpose in Your Darkest Moments by Danny Gokey | 9781612914756 | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble". Barnesandnoble.com. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
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- Fred Bronson (July 4, 2014). "'American Idol' on the Charts: New Album 'Hope' Brings Danny Gokey First Billboard No. 1". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "Chart Highlights: Sam Smith's 'Stay' Hits No. 1 On Pop Songs". Billboard.
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- "K-LOVE Fan Awards". K-LOVE.
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- "Nominees | The 47th Annual GMA Dove Awards". Doveawards.com. Archived from the original on 2016-01-11. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
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-  Archived September 11, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
- "2015 KLOVE Christmas Tour". klovechristmastour.com. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
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- "'Sophia Linnette Gokey Obituary'" Archived 2012-04-26 at the Wayback Machine Church and Chapel Funeral Services, July 2004.
- "Milwaukee man says he's prepared to give his all to make 'Idol' finals" by Tim Cuprisin, Feb. 13, 2009, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- "'Idol's grieving Danny Gokey hopes to lighten up" Jill Serjeant, Feb 19, 2009, Reuters.
- "American Idol Selects First Three Finalists", AP story run in the New York Times.
- "‘Idol’s’ Danny Gokey: My Wife ‘Is The Reason For My Success’" Access Hollywood, February 20, 2009.
- "Danny Gokey Photo Gallery" WITI February 18, 2009 Archived May 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- "Sophia's Heart". Retrieved May 21, 2011.
- "'Latest News: Danny & Leyicet Engagement Announcement'" Archived 2012-01-05 at the Wayback Machine Sophia's Heart, December 25, 2011.
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- O'Donnell, Kevin (January 21, 2013). "Danny Gokey Welcomes Son Daniel Emanuel". People. Retrieved January 21, 2013.
- "Danny Gokey Welcomes Second Child". Retrieved December 4, 2014.
- "Danny Gokey Welcomes Third Child". www.newreleasetoday.com. Retrieved 2017-09-05.
- "WAMI Award Winners". The Post Crescent. April 13, 2010. p. A-6. Retrieved 5 June 2010.[dead link]
- "2016 Winners". doveawards.com. October 11, 2016. Archived from the original on April 7, 2019. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
- "Danny Gokey". GRAMMY.com. 2018-05-22. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
- "Winners". K-LOVE Fan Awards. Retrieved 2019-06-11.
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