Exclusive: Danny Gokey Talks Unifying Message Of ‘Jesus People’

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Three-time GRAMMY nominee, three-time KLOVE Male Vocalist of the Year and Dove Award winner Danny Gokey is set to release a new full-length studio album.  Jesus People (Capitol Christian Music Group) drops August 20th and includes the current radio single, “Stand In Faith,” along with the recently released songs “He Believes In You” and “Agradecido.” Throughout the project, Gokey’s songs touch on love, gratitude, and truth while showcasing features with artists such as Koryn Hawthorne, Christine D’Clario, and Angie Rose. This fall, Gokey will launch his headlining “Stand In Faith” Tour featuring special guest Colton Dixon. In this TCB Exclusive, Gokey talks about the meaning behind the album title, his recent music video shoot and his hopes for the remainder of the year.

Can you talk about the title Jesus People and the meaning behind the cover art?
So ‘Jesus People’ is a song that’s on the album and some of the lyrics are “for thousands of years, thousands of voices have been singing one name. It started with 12 who were crazy enough to leave everything, misfits, doubters, outcasts, cowards, kind of like you and me. But we have one thing in common and He is still the Reigning King. Jesus People.” In the chorus it says, “Jesus people, all around the world, stand up and let it be known. Let’s start living like we’ve been set free. There’s a broken world that needs to see.” So I wanted to name the album ‘Jesus People’ because we live in very divisive times and everything is trying to pull us apart. Jesus is the one that tries to bring us altogether. He has a message of hope and love, a message of faith to look for the good in people. So in really divisive times, we have the One who is trying to bring us all together. And that is why I felt the need to name the album ‘Jesus People’.

Sonically this is a very expansive album with identifiable elements found traditionally in Gospel, Latin, and even rap music. Going into this project, what was your initial vision for the album and was the musical inclusiveness a key point in that vision?
It organically grew. I grew up in a very diverse city – Milwaukee, WI is extremely diverse. And coming to Nashville and learning about the music scene, your music is classified into a genre. And I understand why – financial benefits, there’s a whole science behind why they do it. But I grew up listening to all types of music. And so when I set out to make the album, I didn’t set out to to incorporate gospel and rap. For instance, “Agradecido”, which meas grateful. I wanted to write a song about feeling grateful for what God has done in my life. One of the writers in that session said he wasn’t sure we could because he had just wrote with a new artist – a song about being thankful. So when I started mulling around, and thankful in Spanish is “Agradecido”, so I started singing a line. One of the producers loved it and we just wrote a whole song. So it was a surprise for all of us, too. Greater than that, I think God directs our hearts in the way we should write.  

The recently released “Agradecido” music video includes your family in the beautiful landscapes of Puerto Rico. What do you most remember about the day of that shoot?
First, we were able to have a vacation in Puerto Rico and take our kids there. Me and my wife have been there 2 times before that together, but we wanted to take our kids. It was also a bit of a surprise because we were initially supposed to record that song in the Dominican Republic, but my two youngest kids don’t have passports and couldn’t get passports to the DR. I said I wanted my family in the music video, so I shifted it the same week to Puerto Rico. And so, it all happened really fast, but the most memorable thing was going to Puerto Rico with the kids, experiencing the culture and the ocean. It was a really nice experience!

Which of the tracks, not yet heard in pre-releases, are you most excited for people to hear?
I really think there are a lot of great tracks on the album, but that’s my opinion. I wrote from my heart and my prayer as I create an album is that the Lord would write through me. And I really believe that by faith. What He says is so much more powerful than I could ever say. So there’s a song there called ‘All Are Welcome’, which I really love. It’s a worship song. I remember December 2019 waking up with a verse on my heart, and it was “even so, come Lord Jesus”. And I opened that verse and started reading that chapter, and it talks about all who are hungry, come. Those who have no money, come. There is a feast at the table. So I wrote that song. There’s another song called ‘He Believes In You’ that is already pre-released. I remember the Lord spoke that line to me years ago when I was going through a dark situation. I’m excited for people to hear ‘Jesus People’ and ‘Do For Love.’ It’s a super vibey song featuring Angie Rose who just crushes a rap in it.

Jesus People features all start collaborations with Koryn Hawthorne, Christine D’Clario and Angie Rose. What elements do you think have to come together to make for a meaningful and special collaboration?
So for instance, “Cristo Es Necessario” – I just felt it was necessary to feature another voice on it, to give it more clout. Meaning, since we are talking that we all need Jesus, what better than a woman and a man perspective of that. And people of different cultures coming together to sing that song. So, I think it is a very special song. I am glad that Christine and Koryn offered to be a part of it. It’s one of my favorites off the record because I think it is the answer to a lot of the problems in our culture. As a matter of fact, “we all need Jesus” is the answer to every problem in every culture and every business. 

This fall you will be hitting the road with Colton Dixon on your Stand In Faith Tour. After an extended period of quarantine, how does it feel to be back doing live music?
We haven’t started rehearsals yet, because it is in October. But, we are in preparation for the album release. But pivoting back to that, once we are through the album release, we will be settling our claws into the fall tour. I’m excited to be with Colton – he’s a good man, great guy. I’m excited to make it a really great night. I’m doing it a little different this tour. I was in the shower this morning thinking about how to make this tour stand out. So my mind is there, but we haven’t started yet.

What are you most expectant for in the remainder of 2021?
There are some really cool things! I have some things that I’m working on that I’ve been dreaming about for the last four years. One is this TV show idea I’ve been dreaming about since 2017 – a ministry idea. I have someone interested and we are in the contractual phase with this Christian network. So I’m really excited about that, and about launching this album. I’ve put a lot of heart into this album and see how people react to it. I wish I had a guarantee of success, but I don’t. So all I can pray is that it reaches the hearts and ministers to people’s hearts. 

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