Teaching my heart to beat again

Danny Gokey
Danny Gokey has come back from grief, stronger.

When singer Danny Jay Gokey rose to fame in the US in the eighth season of American Idol in August 2008, not many people knew that he was grieving.

Danny's wife of four years, Sophia, whom he had been with since he was 16, had died during surgery for congenital heart failure a month before his audition. She had been a big fan of Idol and had encouraged Danny to try out, so later he credited her with his success.

The 31-year-old was eliminated in third place on Idol but his career has not looked back since. He has been on tour, started a charity in his late wife's honour, launched an eyewear brand, been nominated for a Grammy, and won a Dove Award for his Christmas album in 2016, which is one among seven albums he has produced so far.

Last year, the former church music director, whose musical style is country pop, won the K-Love Fan Awards' title of Male Artist of the Year.

Danny has also found love again, remarrying model Leyicet Peralta in 2012. The couple now have four children together: Daniel (7), Victoria (5), Gabriel (2) and Emmanuel, born last year on August 16, the birthday of Danny's first wife.

Eleven years after losing Sophia, he shared in a Youtube interview, "There are so many ways the Lord has redeemed the situation. I want to remind people that if you open up and give your cares and burdens to God, He wants to help you and turn the situation for good.

"God was with me this entire time – there were times when I felt He wasn't," Danny says frankly, "That He was angry with me. Like 'why would you let me go through this?' But if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You don't have to understand."

That faith had been with Danny from the time he was a little boy. His grandfather was a pastor and Danny says, "I was raised in church. The stories in the Bible are so close to me."

So he knew about people like Joseph and Job, who got to a very low place where everything looked lost, but who saw God turn their situations around for good.

The artist's most famous song is Haven't Seen It Yet, an anthem of hope for those who feel they have been praying and praying for God to intervene in their situation but they "just haven't seen it yet".

The lyrics include: Don't ever lose hope, hold on and believe/ Maybe you just haven't seen it, just haven't seen it yet/ You're closer than you think you are/ Only moments from the break of dawn/ All His promises are just up ahead/ Maybe you just haven't seen it, just haven't seen it yet

And: He had the solution before you had the problem/ He sees the best in you when you feel at your worst/ So in the questioning, don't ever doubt His love for you/ 'Cause it's only in His love that you'll find a breakthrough.

"I am grateful that the grace of God carried me through," he told Prazor last year at the Dove Awards, where he won an award for the "Haven't Seen It Yet" music video.

He told Godupdates: "A lot of people are defined by their situations. They are defined by being a crack addict, or they are defined by their parents having abused them. But instead of letting my situation define me, I let it become a defining moment in my life, and something good has come out of it. I hope that people get that side of me that's saying, listen, don't let that tragedy or that failure define you, but let it be a defining moment where you step up and become greater."

This sentiment is captured well in his lyrics to Tell Your Heart to Beat Again, which include:

Let the shadows fall away/ Step into the light of grace/ Yesterday's a closing door/ You don't live there anymore/ Say goodbye to where you've been/ And tell your heart to beat again

"My music is part of the Great Commission [where Jesus told His followers]: 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation,'" he told The Christian Post. "It's a goal I continually work toward. With each new record, I've tried to reach out to the churched and unchurched. I really try to do that with my music and get the Gospel message out in a way that's fresh.

"My goal is to show God and His glory through my music."

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