Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Interview with AI8 Finalist Danny Gokey

Interview with American Idol 8 Finalist Danny Gokey
Surviving Being the Frontrunner

Patricia Morris Buckley - Associate Staff Writer

Danny Gokey knows that people are talking about him. As the frontrunner coming into the semifinals, there was little doubt that he’d make the Top 12. At least, most people thought so.

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To read the other AI8 Final 12 interviews, go here...



  1. Danny Gokey knows that people are talking about him. As the frontrunner coming into the semifinals, there was little doubt that he’d make the Top 12. At least, most people thought so.

    “I did [think I could be eliminated],” he said the day after he made the Top 12. “I prepared myself mentally while I was up there, while Ryan was talking. I said, ‘If this is it, I am going to go out gracefully’” and just thankful for the opportunity. In this competition, you just can never be too confident. So, I prepared myself. But, thank God, I didn’t go home.”

    At the same time, he knows that he’s received quite a bit of camera time. And camera time can easily be translated in votes.

    “I do feel like that I was highlighted,” he said. “There’s no getting around that. I didn’t do anything to get that. I can say this; I’m grateful that they would do that. I have no control over it. I’m honored that people support me. It’s just an honor to see that they think this way of me and that they want to see me succeed; people who I’ve never met. I just hope that I can keep them all the way through the competition.”

    But he’s also had to face the backlash over the story of his wife’s death one month before his audition. The producers seem bent on never letting us forget and even while Gokey sang in the semifinals, a friend in the audience held out a photograph of Gokey’s wife.

    Is he surprised that the story that endeared him to fans is starting to get on viewers’ nerves?

    “People coming in from an outside view probably won’t think it’s too much, but it’s only been seven months since she’s passed,” he said. “This is who I am. It’s not that I throw it in people’s faces, but I get asked about it all the time, especially like right now. It weighs on my mind a lot though because honestly, this is a sob story I don’t want. I don’t want this story, but it is shaping my life and it’s causing hope for a lot of people knowing that it’s causing hope for my life. I didn’t want to live any more after she passed.

    “So now, I have my mission set in stone of what I want to portray myself as and just who I am. I don’t have to portray myself as anybody, but as far as being me, but there’s a fun side to me that’s going to come out. And so, people have to stay tuned in. I apologize to everybody if they feel like it’s shoved down their face, but it’s so fresh in my mind.”

    Unlike other contestants, Gokey actually got airtime on two back stories. The other involved his friend Jamar Roger, who failed to get in the Top 36. Fans have voiced on internet their displeasure that the talented Rogers didn’t get through when clown Nick Mitchell did.

    Gokey also went through a stage of anger over Rogers’ unexpected ouster.

    “As you can see from the show that aired it, I was mad,” he admitted. “I had a pretty upset look on my face because I expected him to go through. I mean I was just so confident that he showed his ability and what it takes to get there. And so, disappointment was completely in my mind and heart, but the thing is he received such recognition. I know it’s not the end of the world for him. He has a bright future ahead of him and it doesn’t stop here.”

    However, he’s thankful that he had Rogers with him during Hollywood week. While Gokey showed a happy face to the camera, he was anything but during the actual experience. Having a friend there to talk to made a crucial difference.

    “I’m so thankful he was in Hollywood because in Hollywood, what people don’t know is that Hollywood was very, very tough for me,” he said. “I put on this face, but I was miserable on the inside. Only he knew that because I poured my heart out to him. But since Hollywood, as crazy as it sounds, but I’ve let go of some things that I was gripping on to so deeply. I think letting go of the toxic emotions tied to the situation has really set me free to be able to start enjoying this.”

    Talking to his pastor at the church where he leads worship has also been helpful.

    “I talked to my pastor yesterday and he cried on the phone,” Gokey said. “That never happens, but he was so emotional. You have to understand; he was there the whole entire process of my wife and he saw how much it devastated me. To see a person’s life right before your eyes transform from such a low point to now a high point, it’s emotional. He was so happy for me, and he’s a big part of who I am. He’s a huge mentor in my life. He’s never taken anything from me; he’s only given to me and I just love it. It’s been awesome.”

    Singing with his family of eight in church is how Gokey first discovered his love of music.

    “Well, I come from a musical family” he said. “We would all sing together as kids and we started going to this one church and we’d go up, all eight of us, as a family. My dad would play guitar and we would sing songs in front of the church. So, that’s really where I got started. I didn’t really take it too serious though. It got really serious when I started going to the church I attend now and I was 20-years-old. So, 20-years-old was pivotal in my music career.”

    Gokey’s strategy for the rest of the season is to tighten up his singing and to start having fun. He already sees himself as accomplishing much of what he set out to do.

    “I notice when I’m singing I sometimes get a flat and sharp here,” he said. “That really bothers me because I know that I can do a clean performance. But on the other hand, I like taking risks when I’m singing. I don’t like to just be in the safe box, singing a song, but I want to, so to speak, jump off the bridge and somehow land on my feet. Sometimes, I kind of lose my footing when I’m coming back down.

    “So, that really is my strategy - to clean up and become more professional. Also, like I said before, I want to loosen up a little bit, not be so nervous.”

    And on that lighter note, he hopes to also show off more of his glasses. However, there have been a few snags on that agenda.

    “I have a couple more pairs that I want to wear, but they’ve not been approved because our logo is on them,” he explained. “So, I’m kind of disappointed. I’m hoping that somehow, it can be worked out where I can wear more glasses because I love glasses.”

    That should give people something else to talk about.

  2. Ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Danny Gokey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)


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