Life after 'American Idol': Danny Gokey interview, Bo Bice follow, Carrie Underwood

This was posted Wednesday, January 11, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The Popeyes employee who called Bo Bice "that white boy" told TMZ she felt he over-reacted, causing her to get suspended.

Brooke Harpe said he could have just asked for an apology on the spot and she would have been happy to give it. She returns to work Monday.

The Covington resident and season 4 "American Idol" runner up two weeks ago felt insulted when a Popeyes employee at Hartsfield International Airport called him "that white boy." He complained to Atlanta-based Popeyes headquarters. He received a verbal apology from the franchise operator via phone but when he requested that the operator post an official apology on his public Facebook page, he instead found out it was taken down by Facebook. This led to another post and an appearance on Fox 5. (He said he got teary eyed during that news report over an unrelated issue, not the Popeyes incident.)

I reached out to Bice for a follow up this morning but have not heard anything. (Read my original story about it from last week.) I have a feeling he's just tired of all the brouhaha and wants to move on.

He has not posted anything new on his Facebook page since then.

You can't necessarily blame him when Samantha Bee is making fun of him as she did Wednesday evening:


NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11: Danny Gokey recieves award onstage at the Dove Awards 2016 Pre Show, Lipscomb University on October 11, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Dove Awards)

Danny Gokey is now a bonafide star in the Christian pop world.

I talked with him last month ahead of his latest album release "Rise" on Friday. He said the past eight years have been a revelation for him as a maturing artist who, after "Idol," pursued country but then found success in a new realm.

"I feel so much more seasoned as a songwriter and singer," said Gokey, who was a season 8 third place finisher.

His single "Rise" from that album is rising on the Christian pop chart and is now at No. 11, according to Mediabase 24/7, providing him more momentum after three top 10 hits from his 2014 "Hope in Front of Me" album. He also did well with a Christmas album in 2015, which won him a Dove Award last fall and providing him opportunities to do popular Christmas tours as he did last year with Natalie Grant.

As a sign of his growing stature, Gokey has graduated from a touring van to a bonafide tour bus. "I bring my family with me a lot, especially when I do a four or five-day show run," he said. "It's a lot of work [with two young children] but it's well worth it. It's the whole point. I know God has given me grace and the ammunition as an artist to take full advantage of that."

He said he sees his career from a different vantage point vs. 2009. "I came off  'American Idol' and started doing shows. My music didn't get picked up on radio and the audiences dwindled really quickly. You got to the point where it was almost embarrassing to get on stage. Is anyone going to be there?' "

Now that Christian radio has embraced his music, he can get on stage and people know his music and sing along even to the album cuts. "What an honor and privilege," he said.

Gokey said he is running 150 percent right now. "Break is like a cuss word in our camp," he said before Christmas. "I wouldn't change it for anything no matter how tired I am." He said he sometimes feels negative when he's fatigued, then checks himself and opts for gratitude instead and think about where he was just a few years ago.

"When I got out of my first record label deal [with RCA on a country music venture that didn't quite take], I had nothing to do. I had just gotten married. I got to spend time with my wife. I put a bulk of my time in my non-profit organization Sophia's Heart. I really poured my heart into that."

Sophia's Heart was originally a building to help out homeless families and build wells and orphanages across the world. But he decided to sell the building once he got too busy. "I'm in the process of transitioning myself to become a voice to raise support and empower some local organizations in Nashville, to pass the baton to a family foundation. My mouth was more valuable now."

His new album, he said, "comes from a very personal space. People who know me and watched me on the show and hear my music on the radio know I fought through some tough things at a young age. [His first wife died of congenital heart disease weeks before he tried out for "Idol" in 2008.] I really came out stronger. I've come out better for it going through these things. The new album has a lot of growth to it."

With "Rise," "I wanted to reach into people's hearts and say I know you got brokenness. You don't want to get back up. This is your reason to rise."

Check out his new video below for "Rise."

Gokey ran into season 7 winner Jordin Sparks at the "Idol" series finale and thought of her to work with on a cut on his new album called "Chasing." "It's a powerful song," he said. "It's thematically honest. You're almost in a room by yourself having a conversation with God. You're basically saying, 'You know what? I don't think about you as much as I say that I do. I'm kind of talking the talk, not walking the walk. You've been chasing me.' It's a love song of how God is all about loving unconditionally, not what we can do for him. It's beautiful. She did such a great job."

Gokey, who co-wrote 10 of the 12 cuts, also expanded into a more pop sound with "Stronger Than We Think," which will have a club mix. "We hit some new soundwaves we've never explored," he said. And in "Symptoms," he said he picked up a Bruno Mars vibe.

He will be touring this winter and early spring with headliner Stockbridge, Ga.-based Casting Crowns. Check out the tour dates here.  "From my little interaction with them, they seem like pretty awesome people," he said.


BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 08: Singer Carrie Underwood attends the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 8, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Guess who's No. 1 on the Mediabase 24/7 country chart? Yup. It's Carrie Underwood with "Dirty Laundry." It's not a Don Henley cover but her own tune.

For more than a decade, she has consistently landed in the top 2 or 3 on the country chart no matter what she releases.

She has now collected at least 25 songs that have landed No. 1 on some music chart somwhere. OneCountry recently ranked her previous 24.


NEW YORK, NY - JULY 11: Fantasia performs onstage during the VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail The Queens at David Geffen Hall on July 11, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for VH1)

Fantasia is joining headliner Charlie Wilson and Johnny Gill at Philips Arena March 4. Pre-sale starts Thursday with general sale starting Friday at 10 a.m.


And check out where Ruben Studdard is performing in July in New York City:

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.