Thursday, May 14, 2009

Danny Gokey: "There were times when I didn't want to go out on that stage"

I never thought I would say this again, but I actually feel sorry for Danny Gokey.

It was clear during his conference call with reporters today that there was part of him that wishes the judges had just shut up. That they had not put so much pressure on him by making him the chosen one. That they had just let him do his thing and judged him honestly instead of trying to push him at America.

It was also clear that Danny read WAY too many blogs about him. And though I appreciate Danny taking an interest, I think his time on “Idol” would have been a much better experience for him if he had just avoided them. Then he wouldn’t have felt like he had to be so careful about what he said and did.

Here’s just a sample of the many things Danny had to say today…

On whether “the scream” did him in: “I really wanted to take a risk. I think it could have been one of the variables. And being so late in the competition you really don’t want to have a performance like that. I think everything in that song was good up to that point. And I rehearsed that scream so much that I really hurt my vocal cords. I was sore on my home visit and I’m still sore this week. But it was funny though. It was a funny scream.”

Later, Danny referred to the scream as “hilarious.” I can’t help but wonder (no one ever asked) why if it was hurting him that he went ahead and did it anyway…

On what he learned from the experience: “One of the things that I learned is I learned a lot about myself and how pressure has an effect on a person. I think for me this whole experience I learned to overcome things in my life. I learned to overcome insecurities, overcome doubts. There were times when I didn’t want to go on that stage because I just felt maybe unprepared or I was like man, is anyone going to like what I’m doing. I over thought the process. But when I had the good performances, especially this past week, I was so thankful. Because even though I didn’t want to go out there, I made myself do it and I did good. Sometimes, we only see so much and you wonder how people are viewing you and that has an effect on your performance.”

On sizing up Kris vs. Adam: “Kris is really artistic and Adam has a way on the show of capturing the audience. Here’s what I think. People need to vote. You know, don’t automatically assume someone’s going in. Don’t have your assumptions. If you want a certain person to win, you gotta vote. I’m telling you this competition is not over yet. I have a feeling this is going to be a tight race this next week.”

On Kris and Adam’s personalities: “Kris is very mellow and that’s always one characteristic I’ve always wanted. I’m an intense personality at times. Adam, he’s just an all-around great guy. I really can’t fault him. Adam is who he is onstage and he is who he is offstage. He’s very creative. He lives creative, he dresses creatively. I mean he talks from that perspective.”

On whether contestants need to rearrange every song in order to survive: “I think you have to change up every song. And it’s funny, there were some songs that I wanted to do that I had prepared and changed up that I never got to do. There were a few times where I picked a song and I tried putting a different arrangement on it and it just didn’t work. It kind of stinks because at this point it’s more than singing—I shouldn’t say it stinks, it’s actually pretty good—but it’s more than singing. People really want to see a creative element see an old song made fresh again. I think Idol from this point on, ever since last year, you can’t go on singing the same arrangement of a song. You’ll get bashed.”

On his future plans: “I personally would like to start a movement with my music. Maybe it sounds so big of me, or a little bit cocky, but the music I have inside of me is to revolutionize a culture and people’s hearts. My dream is to mix my music with my foundation—Sophia’s Heart Foundation. That is everything to me. For my music career, I don’t necessarily want it to be about me. I want it to be about people. When I get a vision of a concert, this is what I see, I see opening up concerts with all the lights going on, possibly following the story of a kid whose father has been killed by a gang, whose mother is a drug addict and kind of watching his life, showing bits and pieces of his life and showing how he’s had to overcome this and that. You know, possibly how Sophia’s Heart Foundation has impacted this kid. And I’d like to come out there and entertain people and come back to another story. And basically what I want to do is I want to entertain people, but I want people to come out of their zone a little. I not only want to make people leave feeling good, but they’re gonna want to make a change. That’s what I want to do. Because my whole testimony is overcoming, overcoming the impossible in my life. And now I want to take that message and tell people if I can do it, they can do it.”

On the pressure: “I felt like I had so much on me in the beginning of the show that I had to outdo myself every week. The thing for me—here was another battle for me on the show—I’m still growing as a musician, yet people expect this to come out of me and at times I just wasn’t there yet. When there’s so much expectancy for one person people will tend to get disappointed, but when you see another person with no expectancy, they’ll show up and they can wow the crowd because people just aren’t expecting it. Then you come and you have so much expectation for something and it doesn’t work out the way you want it you get disappointed. I’m sure there were times when people thought, ‘Man I thought you were better than that.’ At times I was in the room with my mentors, and I was like, ‘They want more, what do I do?’ And I gave it a really good try. The thing is I know that there’s a lot of creativity and I can’t wait to express it the way I want to express it. I know that there’s a bright future ahead of me and that’s how I’m going to look at it.”

On his CD: “I want to mix a soulful album with nice beats—nice R&B beats. Beats that get people’s heads moving and mix it with a hint of a Latin flair. I want to mix it all in one arena.” Danny’s wife was Puerto Rican, so he enjoys that type of music.

His message to his fans: “I want to thank my fans for just supporting me. What affirms me as an artist is them because week after week they voted, voted and voted and that shows that they believe in me. That they see something inside of me. And it makes me feel good. And I want to tell them I love them and I think they’re the best out there. And I hope that they support me when the CD comes out.”

On the tour: “I envision it as a point to talk to my fans and show them a side of me they weren’t able to see on TV. The coolest thing now is I can take my guard down. I don’t have to have a guard anymore. I don’t need votes. People can’t accuse me of wanting to get votes by doing this or that. Now I can just talk openly and freely to the people that I sing in front of and I’m looking forward to that.”

Yes, I believe that was a swipe at Michael Slezak…

On whether he knew he was going home when it was just him and Adam: “I knew. I knew that was it for me. Actually the whole day I kind of thought that it was it for me. Did I want it to be it for me? No, you know, I wanted to go for the gold just like they did. And it didn’t work out that way. I’m a competitor by nature. I like to compete. I gave it what I gave it. Looking back, would I have done things different? Absolutely. But the one thing I can say is that I’m proud of my accomplishment from where I came from 10 months ago losing my wife to where I am today. It wasn’t just the show, I was battling different things. Not only in the competition did I keep my head up and put at the time what I thought was my very best foot forward but I also had to deal with that whole end of the spectrum—losing my wife. I saw a strength in me I didn’t know I had.”

On what Simon said to him: “He said, ‘Man, you are a phenomenal singer.’ And I think this is what he said, he said, ‘It’s a shock that you didn’t make it, but the thing is, these things happen. It’s sad to not see you in there.’ I’m just glad I had the opportunity to sing in front of these judges. I think it’s every singer’s dream to get on this stage and want to please those judges because those judges have right now the most popular opinions in music. Everybody wants to know what they’ve got to say. And I got to grace the stage and sing in front of them. It means so much to me. I hugged Simon, I hugged all the judges.”

Danny said the first thing he wants to do after the tour is get his team together and start working on plans for his foundation. “I want to just grow this foundation because it means SO much to me. It is the legacy of my wife and myself here on the Earth even though she’s gone. So I’m gonna push that. I have a lot of open doors and I’m gonna walk through those doors. I wanna come out with a line of glasses. Hopefully have the glasses promote the foundation.”

By the way, Danny started with 15 pairs of glasses and now he has 50+.

On Simon asking for votes for Adam: “It is what it is. I’ve gotta be honest. It doesn’t make me mad. It doesn’t disappoint me. That’s what he believes is gonna make the most money. Take what I say with a grain of salt because I don’t want people to misquote me. I didn’t get in this for the money. I didn’t get in this so I could live this glamorous lifestyle. My goal is so different and maybe it didn’t line up with what they feel, the pop star. I’m okay with that because I want to have a movement in my music. I feel like my vision is a little different so it’s okay with me. I love Simon. I can’t hate on him. I love the guy. Man, the guy is bad to the bone. We need entertainment because not everyone can be what I’m about because maybe that’ll irritate people. We need a lot of entertainment because that’s what sells.”

On whether he was surprised that he outlasted Allison: “I think the whole amount of the show I was kind of surprised that I kept going. I really can’t explain that one. I think it goes to show that I have pretty strong support out there. And I’m pretty confident that hopefully when I put out a CD that will still shine through…Allison is amazing. Can you imagine the two of us with husky voices going to town [on a duet]? I think we would have ripped that thing to shreds.”

On this week’s vote totals: “I just know that it was neck-to-neck. I believe it was…I hope so.”

During his final thoughts to reporters, Danny stressed how thankful he is and he even thanked the reporters. “I think on this phone call I can be more open about things and I don’t have to worry about being judged as much and I just appreciate that…I was a nobody and this show turned me into a somebody.”

Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup for FOX