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‘American Idol’ Alum Danny Gokey: ABC Made ‘A Mistake’ in Nixing Funny Auditions

That "hooked a lot of people in," says the season eight finalist and Christian artist.

Fresh off his first Grammy nomination for the album “Rise,” “American Idol” season eight alum Danny Gokey has signed a new recording contract with Capitol Christian Music Group.

In a recent interview with Variety, Gokey noted that it has been 10 years since he first auditioned for the singing competition, which aired on Fox for 15 seasons. “If I can encourage anyone, I went on the biggest show in music, and then I signed with a record label and got dropped,” says Gokey. “So not everything happens in the moment you want it to happen.”

Through season nine, which aired in 2010, “American Idol” finalists were contracted to Sony Music labels via 19 recordings. Future seasons saw music released through Universal Music Group and, on the ABC reboot, premiering March 11, finalists’ recordings will be issued by Hollywood Records, a subsidiary of Disney.

Gokey was signed to RCA Nashville upon finishing third on the show in 2009. “There were a few years of silence,” he says. “And then in 2014 with my new label [BMG], I released my first song and it went to No.1 [on the U.S. Christian charts]. And in 2017 I got a Grammy nomination.”

Gokey’s drive is what attracted Capitol to come to the table. Said Brad O’Donnell, CCMG’s chief creative officer, in announcing the signing: “Danny is an artist that we have admired for some time. He’s an incredible singer, passionate communicator and has a strong sense of who he is as an artist. When the opportunity came along to work with him we jumped at the chance.”

“The passion, creativity and vision Danny brings has already brought him so much success, and we are honored to come alongside him and his team to serve his gifts moving forward,” added CCMG chief marketing officer Hudson Plachy.

With all of his good fortune, Gokey says he also makes sure to support other “Idol” alums, like fellow season 8 finalist Alison Iraheta, who is about to release a new album with her band Halo Circus called “Robots and Wranglers.”

“She was my wife’s favorite that year, I was not,” says Gokey with a laugh. “Alison Iraheta is one of the most talented people on that season.”

He also praises season three alum and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, who will play Aretha Franklin in a sanctioned movie about the iconic singer’s life. “[Jennifer] is killing the game,” he adds. “That is a big thing that she is doing. She’s been through some stuff, and it doesn’t stop her. I think that is encouragement and inspiration to all of us.”

As for future “American Idol” standouts, Gokey says he’s interested to see what ABC has up its sleeve, but is lamenting one aspect of the old “Idol.”

“I heard they are not doing the funny auditions, and if we are going to be quite honest, the funny auditions hooked a lot of people in, and then unknowingly, those people stuck to watching the show,” says Gokey. “So I think they are making a mistake not having that. But it’s a great show, and I hope that a lot of people get a chance — like myself — who wouldn’t have had a chance before.”

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