Danny Gokey almost didn’t go through with his dream of auditioning for American Idol. But wait, there is a whole back story that you need to hear before we get into that moment. This Milwaukee native always knew that his faith was the key to who he was and served for several years, leading worship at Faith Builders International Ministries.
As his wife, Sophia, started watching this new television show, American Idol, Danny admits that he never took the time to sit down and watch it. That was until the seventh season and he started to dream about possibly auditioning. But there I go again… still more story.
In June of 2005, Sophia started having her first symptoms. Her heart was beating 200 times per minute which is way too fast for a person in a normal state of motion. Danny had always thought that her heart problems were taken care of in childhood. See, Sophia was born with a congenital heart defect and had several surgeries early on. One Sunday, while Danny was leading worship, he got word that Sophia had been rushed to the hospital. He got a big fat speeding ticket trying to get to her.
While Danny, his friends and family and numerous churches prayed for Sophia to be healed, God had other plans. In his book “Hope In Front of Me” [Amazon] [iBooks], he describes his feelings during Sophia’s health struggles, “I felt like there’s got to be something better than this. Nothing was lining up with what I thought was going to happen.” Danny continues, “I needed a fresh perspective and a refilling of strength and hope to keep moving forward because dark times are inevitable.”
During Sophia’s last hospital stay, the crowd in the waiting room became so large, they had to move to the top of the parking garage to find room. But no matter how long or how hard they prayed, Sophia was healed on the other side: heaven. When he kissed her goodbye before her surgery, Danny didn’t know that would be the last time he would see her awake. His darkest moment came when he found himself still wishing for a miracle as they lowered Sophia’s casket into the ground.
A friend took the time to sit down with Danny and help him process the loss of his wife. This friend had also lost his first wife really early in their 20’s and didn’t know how he would go on. But he had gone on, and he had written a song that really helped Danny during that time. The song: “I Still Believe”. The friend: Jeremy Camp.
After being a top three finalist on the eighth season of American Idol, Danny now has his own album filled with songs about hope. Hope in Front of Me holds the message that you must keep moving forward. Danny auditioned for American Idol because he promised Sophia he would. Danny shares, “Whatever you have faced, whatever trial, betrayal, disappointment, or loss, I can tell you with certainty – as someone who has been to hell and back – to keep moving forward.”