Christian singer and third-place American Idol finalist
Music feeds the soul and few people understand its power better than Danny Gokey. His young life has been a rollercoaster ride and music has been his constant companion. It sustained him following the death of his first wife, Sophia, and it propelled him up the charts after the world discovered his talent on American Idol. Music has shaped his life, providing a sense of purpose and direction, even in the most trying times. Gokey has always loved music, but in the early days, it wasn’t the job that paid the bills. “I drove an eighteen wheeler semi-truck, a big rig,” he says. “I liked it actually. Was it what I wanted to settle with for the rest of my life? No, because music was where my passion was.” His wife Sophia encouraged his dreams and urged him to audition for American Idol. Just a month before his audition, Sophia died unexpectedly after what should have been a routine heart surgery. The couple had been high school sweethearts and Danny was devastated. Yet in the midst of his sorrow, he honored Sophia’s wish and auditioned for American Idol a month after she passed. He advanced through the competition. Viewers were touched by Danny’s story and the depth and power of his voice made him a fan favorite. American Idol not only helped Gokey land a record deal and catapulted his voice into the homes of millions, it also helped provide a platform for him to launch Sophia’s Heart, an organization founded to carry on the legacy of giving started by his late wife. The organization provides a place to live for homeless families in Nashville, and Gokey is proud of the way Sophia’s Heart has expanded to care for a growing number of families each year. “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” is a gut-wrenching ballad that talks about pain and loss, yet serves as a reminder of the hope that is always present even in the most trying times. “This is What It Means” is a revealing ballad that Danny says is the most autobiographical. “That song is the most about me,” he says. “Literally every line in there is written from a true experience. It talks about love and says ‘there’s fear, there’s faith, there’s loss, there’s grace. I’ve seen it from both sides. This is what it means to be alive.’ It’s the truest song on the album.” Danny Gokey is a survivor. When he sings, there’s an authority and conviction that comes from life experience. He’s been through so many challenges, yet hope was always a part of his journey. These days Gokey is in a sweet season. He’s remarried and he and his wife, Leyicet, have a beautiful son, Daniel Emanuel, born January 20, 2013. Gokey chronicles his life in his autobiography, also titled “Hope in Front of Me” and in the songs on his new album. “Life might not always make sense,” he says. “There’s no justice in it and sometimes it might not seem fair, but it’s not the end of the road. Turn the page. Move forward and keep putting your life in God’s hands. There is always hope ahead.