AMERICAN IDOL Alum Danny Gokey: Christ Is Enough
By Movieguide® Staff
Singer-songwriter Danny Gokey made a promise to his wife; that he would try out for AMERICAN IDOL. But after Gokey’s wife died unexpectedly during routine heart surgery in 2009, fulfilling that promise seemed like the last thing he wanted to do.
“They gave me a private room and I yelled out loud, ‘God, you have to save her! You have to heal her! You have to. You cannot leave me alone like this!'” Gokey said on an I Am Second video.
Gokey grew up singing in church, and by his mid-20s, he became the director of Faith Builders International Ministries. He also met his first wife, Sophia Martinez.
“I made a promise that I would go try out,” Danny said. “Little did I know that when I would try out for this show, it would be a month after she passed.
“Little did I know that in our first year of marriage that we’d be in the hospital together because her heart was beating 200 times per minute,” Danny continued. “And that’s when the doctor dropped the news on us. We were both 24-years-old. He said, ‘We’re going to have to have another heart surgery.'”
The tragic event forced Gokey to face some of his lifelong fears about God’s love for him.
“I remember it got to the point where she was gone. I just felt at such a complete loss. And once again, that all-familiar thing, the fear… came back into my life. This time because she ended up passing away, I literally felt in my heart like… God is mad at me,” Gokey said. “At the funeral, there was such a numbness on me that I just could not cry a tear. Everything that I had in me was literally drained.”
Gokey determined to keep his promise to Sophia. After a successful audition, Gokey really began to feel the pressure.
“I’m a mess, and I’m going to look like a mess in front of all these people,” Gokey thought. “There was this verse that kept coming around and it was coming in the most random places, Psalm 46:10 And it said, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ What does this mean? Do I just need to just calm myself down and say, ‘You are God?’ I literally would try that and yet nothing would work.”
Gokey continued: “As I looked into the Hebrew of this verse, when it says, ‘Be still and know that I am God,’ it says stop striving, stop fighting, let go, cause yourself to let go. I saw myself back in that moment as I buried my first wife, I saw myself hanging on to her casket. I saw myself being buried with her. And something began to happen, every time the anger would come back about the why… or the questions, I would just tell myself, no, I force myself, I cause myself to let it go. It was almost like God pulled this cork out of my heart and these negative emotions, the bitterness just drained through. But once I let my grip go, once I let it go… God answered my prayer.”
Despite his revelation, he wanted to give up AMERICAN IDOL. However, after receiving social media posts and letters about how his story impacted others, he knew God wanted him to continue.
Ultimately, Gokey took third place during the eighth season.
Despite Gokey’s success on the show, he did not sign a record label until five years after the competition. Gokey is now married to Leyicet Peralta, and the couple has four kids.
As God continues to bless his music career, Gokey started a foundation called Sophia’s Heart. Gokey would later rebrand the nonprofit to Better Than I Found It and continues to aid homeless families.
“I didn’t believe Christ was enough. I believed there was Christ plus now I’ve got to do X, Y and Z. One of the most profound things that I’ve learned in my walk with Christ is that He is enough. I leaned towards Jesus more than ever before,” Gokey concluded: “It wish I could say that it was a complete change, but it’s a slow by slow change and it’s a… It’s just a everyday getting up and moving forward.”