Ask Danny Gokey which came first, and he doesn't hesitate. Church came before music, he says, then music gave him a foot in the door on Season 8 of "American Idol," and the two came together to cement his career as a Christian singer who has been nominated for a Grammy, won a Dove Award, took home "Male Artist of the Year" at the seventh annual K-LOVE Fan Awards in Nashville in June and saw his album "Haven't Seen It Yet" hit No. 1 on the Billboard's Christian Airplay chart later that month.
"I was raised in church," he says, "but at home, my parents made all of us kids sing. And my youth pastor at the time had a good set of ears and eyes where he could really see gifts, and for me, it was singing. So he really pushed me toward it. In hindsight, God really used him to push me to a very uncomfortable place."
The Hope Encounter Tour
WHEN — 7 p.m. Nov. 14
WHERE — First Baptist Church, 200 S.W. “A” St. in Bentonville
COST — $15-$75
INFO — eventbrite.com
Gokey was driving a semi-trailer truck in the daytime and working for a church nights and weekends when his high school sweetheart and wife, Sophia, got him hooked on recorded episodes of "American Idol." "She convinced me to try out," he says simply. Sophia died from complications of a congenital heart defect, but Gokey finished in the Top 3 on "Idol" -- behind Kris Allen and Adam Lambert -- and launched his career.
Writing in September 2018, critic John J. Moser of The Morning Call said Gokey had "found himself" as a contemporary Christian singer.
"Finally on his first headlining tour, Gokey, now 38, showed himself as a fully realized artist, singing Christian songs, but with the decidedly blue-eyed soul sound that made him shine on 'Idol,'" he wrote. "The concert, too, was a fully realized production: a backdrop of video screens behind Gokey, an expansive stage with a six-man band. And Gokey showed enough presence to fill it."
Gokey says he enjoys arena performances but prefers theaters and churches like First Baptist, where The Hope Encounter Tour will stop Nov. 14. The show will include hits from his two recent albums -- "Rise" and "Haven't Seen It Yet" -- along with Christmas songs from a new collection, "The Greatest Gift."
"I love to be close to the people -- with the people," he says.
NAN What's Up on 11/10/2019
Print Headline: From 'Idol' To Evangelist