Wednesday night may have marked the end of Danny Gokey's run on "American Idol" but it also marked the start of a new path that has opened up since he went from obscurity to stardom.
"His life will never be the same," exclaimed Gokey's pastor, Jeff Pruit of Faith Builders International Ministries in Milwaukee, the day after he was voted off the Fox TV singing contest.
"[D]estiny always has many twists and turns, but will always land you in just the right place," Pruit added. "American Idol was such a blessing for Danny to excel in his gifting, but does not have the final say for his life!"
On Wednesday's vote-off show, Gokey was revealed to have received the fewest viewer votes, thus advancing Idol contenders Adam Lambert and Kris Allen to next week's season finale and leaving behind the 29-year-old church music director.
Gokey had long been considered to be a front-runner of the eighth season of "American Idol," never appearing as one of the show's bottom vote-getters. But Allen's notable improvement over the past few weeks and his totally stripped-down version of Kanye West's "Heartless" on Tuesday apparently made him a contender for the finale.
"[U]p until a couple of weeks ago I thought Danny would win this season," commented Christian entertainment blogger Joanne Brokaw, who runs Gospel Soundcheck on the multi-faith site Beliefnet.com. "But the last few weeks I've seen Kris grow by leaps and bounds as an artist, so by the end of April I had a sneaking suspicion that Danny might be in trouble."
Now, as Lambert and Allen prepare for their final Idol performances next week, Gokey will be looking forward to the big plans that he has as an Idol alum.
Besides touring this summer with the top 10 finalists, Gokey reportedly plans to work more with Sophia's Heart Foundation, which he founded after the death of his wife last year – just weeks before his audition for "American Idol."
Gokey also has expressed his desire to start his own eyeglass line and to make a "soulful" album with rhythm and blues mixed with salsa and merengue beats.
"Get ready for the release of his album … you know it's going to be hot," exclaimed his pastor Thursday.
Gokey had served as the praise and worship leader at Faith Builders International for eight years before landing a spot on "American Idol."
He is among several former "American Idol" contenders who appeared in the recent documentary "From Idol to Inspiration," which highlighted the impact of the singing contest on the Christian music industry and vice-versa. Other finalists whose faith has stood out during and after the competition include Mandisa Hundley, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, Chris Sligh, Phil Stacey, and current finalist Allen.
The winner of "American Idol" season eight will be crowned next Wednesday.