Whether talking about his new line of glasses, his next album or Sophia’s Heart, the charity he started, Danny Gokey shows he has vision.
Fittingly, Gokey was at Wisconsin Vision, 2005 Silvernail Road in Waukesha, on Monday afternoon to celebrate the launch of his new line of eyewear, the Gokey collection.
While in town, he shared his plans for the upcoming year.
In an interview before performing, Gokey, joined by his new wife Leyicet, shared his vision for where he’s going this year — both personally and professionally.
Gokey is settling into married life, having married in January. The couple just moved into a new house in the Nashville area.
They are working together on Sophia’s Heart and are also working together in launching the new line of eyewear.
Working together is going well.
“It’s like having your best friend at your side,” he said.
“Like?” She teasingly asked, making her new husband pause a moment.
Then together they laughed.
Gokey is also writing songs and working on a new album, which he hopes to complete early next year.
Danny’s charity: Sophia’s Heart Foundation
He’s also been busy with his charity, Sophia’s Heart, named for Gokey’s late wife. The foundation has two locations, Milwaukee and Nashville. The focus in Milwaukee is music and arts.
One of the reasons he started Sophia’s Heart was because he saw music and arts being taken out of the schools, despite studies that show when music and arts are included, academics improve, Gokey said.
Adding music and arts improves the overall health, mental health and well-being of children, he said.
But bringing music to children is important in another way to Gokey: It can give them hope, maybe hope for making it big one day but also hope for everyday life.
“I think it’s something they can focus on. It builds hope inside of them,” he said.
“Kids right now, they go through so many different things, they need something that puts hope in them.”
In Nashville, the foundation works with homeless families. The foundation has a “huge” facility, about 77,000 square feet, and takes in homeless families, helping them get back into a home through support and education, according to Gokey.
The next big project in Nashville will be taking in women who have been victims of human trafficking, providing for their immediate need of food and housing, and working with other agencies to get services they might need, Gokey said.
Gokey said his charity work has been very rewarding for him.
“The vision and where I see it going … Sophie’s Heart is heavily involved in it. So I’m very happy to see the amount of growth in it,” he said.
As he sang from one of his new songs: “Nothing is impossible, no matter what they say. A little bit of faith, little bit of hope, little bit of love goes a long way.”
The clouds passed over without a drop of rain, as had been predicted, when Gokey visited Waukesha.
A crowd of people young and old came from all over Wisconsin and Illinois to meet a man they admired and to hear his music.
Gokey sang two songs, took a break to sign autographs and have pictures taken with fans, and then sang again, choosing old and new songs for the crowd.
When asked what they like about Danny Gokey, people are nearly unanimous in their answer: “He’s just a really nice guy.” “He’s got an amazing voice.” “He’s got a great personality.”
Gokey has a loyal fan base in the area, including Waukesha resident Erin Novara, who has only missed one of his appearances. Daughter Chey, 3, is also fan. She waited patiently with her mom to see him.
There were also fans from out of state, like Chad and Jen Vincent, and young sons Danny and Jordan, from Illinois. Yes, they named their son Danny.
Most people asked said they were Danny Gokey fans since American Idol, but others were new fans, like sisters Kayla and Kelsey Oliphant. Their mother, Reeda Smith, Waukesha, has been a fan from the start.
Gokey and Waukesha
Gokey said that he once applied for a job at the non-profit LaCausa here in Waukesha. The job didn’t work out for him but other things did.
The eyewear collection
Gokey described the collection of eyewear as "geek-chic." They’re something he can comfortably wear on-stage, but also look professional off-stage. The line features styles for men ages 18 to 35 and include a mix of colors, textures and material and urban and Bohemian details.