Perf. Arts

Back home to share a message of hope
Former 'Idol' finalist Danny Gokey has new album, benefit concert set



By GREGG WANDSNEIDER - Special to TimeOut

June 19, 2014


It’s been a while since we’ve heard the name Danny Gokey.

It was four years ago when Gokey released his first album, “My Best Days,” after making it as a finalist during the eighth season of “American Idol.”

On Monday, Gokey’s newest musical project, “Hope In Front of Me,” will be released on BMG records, a division of Sony Entertainment.  A few days after that - June 27 - Gokey and his band will bring their soulful sounds to Fox River Christian Church in the Town of Waukesha. The concert will benefit Exploit No More, a local organization dedicated to prevention of and education about sex trafficking.

So what has Gokey, 34, been up to? He has spent the last several months raising a family with his wife of two years, Leyicet. Together, they have one child and have another one on the way. They live in Nashville with their two dogs.

“We’re happy with the opportunities that have been presented to us,” Gokey said.

One opportunity close to his heart is Sophia’s Heart, a shelter for the homeless that Gokey said is in honor of his first wife of the same name. The shelter now has three locations, in Nashville and Milwaukee. Through his stories and songs during the concert and his newly released book, “Hope In Front of Me,” Gokey hopes to share stories of the positive changes that have taken root in people’s lives because of this organization.

“I want to mix hope with entertainment,” said Gokey, who uses the social media hashtag #hopeaholic.

The title track from Gokey’s sophomore album, “Hope in Front of Me,” also is the lead single. According to his website, the song has defined his life and underscores his mission to reach out to others with hope and entertainment.

“I want to deliver a message that feeds the soul, but makes you want to move and groove to the music. That’s always the goal when I write. I’m a person of faith, so I always want my songs to have a strong message of hope,” Gokey said on his website.

Though he is not calling this a tour, in addition to the show in Waukesha, Gokey also will be playing at the House of Blues in Dallas on Friday and Houston on Saturday, and in Green Bay for two shows June 28.

“I have one foot in the church and one foot in the entertainment world,” said Gokey, who performs in a variety of venues, from churches to nightclubs.

“I don’t shy away from being a Christian,” he added.

Gokey grew up singing in a church with his family, including his five siblings, and also has been a worship leader. He said he feels good about coming back, so close to his hometown of Milwaukee, describing it as cultural and artsy.

“Milwaukee has such a great food and music scene,” he said.

Gokey states that he has a “really great relationship” with Wisconsin Vision, who helped him develop a line of eyeware to give glasses to those who can’t afford them.

Gokey continues to give encouragement for those who are trying out for “American Idol,” and pursuing a career in music. Though his music career flourished after “Idol,” Gokey, who was a worship leader for eight years, said he spent years pursuing a music career before “it really happened.”

Gokey has some advice for people just beginning to pursue a career in music: “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.”

At a glance

What: Danny Gokey album release concert to benefit Exploit No More

When: 7 p.m. June 27

Where: Fox River Christian Church, S46-W24130 Lawnsdale Road, Town of Waukesha

Tickets: Through June 26, tickets are $20 for Artist’s Circle, $10 for general admission. A VIP add-on ticket for early entry at 5:30 p.m. and a question-and-answer with Gokey is $10. Tickets at the door are $23 for the Artist Circle and $13 for general admission.

Information: 544-6000 or