Gokey in his hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin on May 8, 2009
|Daniel Jay Gokey|
|Born||April 24, 1980|
|Genres||Pop, CCM, blue-eyed soul, country pop|
|Instruments||Vocals, acoustic guitar, piano|
|Labels||19 / RCA Nashville (2009-2011)
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 moved his musical direction toward adult pop/contemporary Christian music genre and 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 tried out for their elite ABLAZE singing group in 9th grade, but was cut during auditions and did not make the group. He played trumpet for a few years instead.
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".
|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|
|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"
|Top 4||Rock and roll Duet
|"Renegade" with Kris Allen
|Top 3||Judge's Choice (Paula Abdul)
|"Dance Little Sister"
"You Are So Beautiful"
|Terence Trent D'Arby
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.
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.
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.
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.
His most recent album received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.
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.
|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|
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions||Sales|
|My Best Days||4||3||--||--||--|
|Hope in Front of Me||
|Christmas Is Here||
|La Esperanza Frente a Mi||
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US Christ AC
|2009||"My Best Days Are Ahead of Me"||82||24||--||--||--||My Best Days|
|2010||"I Will Not Say Goodbye"||--||32||--||--||--|
|2011||"Second Hand Heart"||--||48||--||--||--||Love Again|
|2014||"Hope in Front of Me"||--||--||4||1||27||Hope in Front of Me|
|2015||"More Than You Think I Am"||--||--||17||8||--|
|"Lift Up Your Eyes"||--||--||17||4||--||Christmas Is Here|
|2016||"Tell Your Heart to Beat Again"||--||--||2||2||--||Hope in Front of Me|
|"--" denotes releases that did not chart|
|2010||"Tennessee Christmas"||Non-album single|
|2016||"If You Ain't In It"||Rise|
|"Better Than I Found It"|
|US Christ AC
|2009||"You Are So Beautiful"||25||--||--||Non-album song|
|2015||"Mary, Did You Know?"||--||14||5||Christmas is Here|
|2010||"My Best Days Are Ahead of Me"||Wes Edwards|
|"I Will Not Say Goodbye"|
|2014||"Hope in Front of Me"||Not listed|
|2016||"Tell Your Heart to Beat Again"||Kristin Barlowe|
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|2009||"Stand By Me"||N/A||American Idol Season 8|
|2011||"O Holy Night"||Have Yourself a Merry Little Country Christmas - Kohl's Cares|
|2013||"I Still Believe"||Country Faith|
|"Great I Am"||Paul Wilbur & Sharon Wilbur||Your Great Name|
|"Sovereign God"||William McDowell||Withholding Nothing|
|2014||"Great I Am"||Paul Wilbur & Sharon Wilbur||I've Seen Heaven|
|"Hallelujah Song"||Scott MacIntyre||Lighthouse|
|2015||"Great I Am"||Paul Wilbur & Sharon Wilbur||iWorship Now/Next 2015|
|"Great I Am"||Worship Anthems Inspired By A.D. The Bible Continues|
|"You Are My Rest"||Karyn Williams||Lettinig Go of Perfect|
|2016||"Impossible Things"||Chris Tomlin||Never Lose Sight|
|"Tell Your Heart to Beat Again"||N/A||WOW Hits 2017|