Looking at a photo from one of Danny Gokey’s recent concerts, your eyes go straight to his feet.
They’re shoeless and wrapped up in bandages. In the background is a crowd of 1,200 people.
Here’s the backstory: A couple of hours before the Nov. 11 show, Gokey, a Christian singer-songwriter, was getting ready for a meet-and-greet and steaming his shirt. A tussle with the steamer’s cord caused scalding water to spill on Gokey’s shins and ankles.
He went to the emergency room, where he found out he had third-degree burns on his left foot and second-degree burns on his right foot.
That didn’t stop Gokey from singing that night — just an hour or so later than planned — in Richmond, Va. He just played the whole show sitting down.
While he called the show “one for the books,” he didn’t seem too fazed in an interview with The Gazette.
Gokey thinks he “did a pretty good chair dance.”
His feet are still healing. Otherwise, things have perked up since then.
Gokey was nominated last week for two Grammys: for best contemporary Christian music album and best contemporary Christian music performance/song, both on the heels of his latest album, “Haven’t Seen It Yet.” And he’s heading out this week on his fourth annual Christmas tour with Natalie Grant.
The tour stops here on Wednesday at Springs First Church, 4120 E. Fountain Blvd.
Gokey and Grant met seven years ago and for awhile shared a manager, who suggested they do a Christmas tour, “kinda like Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant have done for years,” Gokey said.
“The first time we ever did a song together, our voices really blended well and we had fun singing together,” Gokey said of singing with Grant. “It made perfect sense to us to do the Christmas tour because our voices are big voices and our styles are similar in that we both have a little soul influence in how we sing.”
For the upcoming 10-date trek, Gokey and Grant plan on sharing the stage more than in past years. They’ll do a mix of favorites from each of their Christmas albums, plus some worship songs. The lineup will likely include a rendition of “The Prayer, a single Gokey and Grant released last year.
“We wanted it to be a night that is different from our other tours, so we made it an integrated set,” Gokey said. “We’re on stage a lot together doing duets, as well as our solo songs. It’s not Natalie’s set and then Danny’s set.”
For both singers, you could consider Christmas music their thing. Gokey has released two holiday albums: “Christmas is Here” came out in 2015 and “The Greatest Gift” was released in October.
He’s known for more than his popular and soulful covers of classics like, “O, Holy Night.” His hits include, “Tell Your Heart To Beat Again” and “Hope in Front of Me.”
Gokey’s breakthrough came in 2009 when he appeared on “American Idol.” Four weeks before his audition, Gokey’s wife passed away.
Ten years later, he looks back on “American Idol” as a “point of hope for me in a very dark time.”
“Having that as a goal that she and I had set together kept me going as I worked through healing from her loss,” Gokey said.
From the beginning, auditioning with the song, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” Gokey impressed the judges. He finished third, behind Kris Allen and Adam Lambert.
For a worship leader from Milwaukee, the show opened his eyes to a “new world.”
“It allowed me to see that God could use my music to reach people both in and outside the church,” he said. “I was getting letters and posts on socials from people who were really touched by my story. Hearing those things changed how I viewed what I wanted to do with my music.”
“American Idol” didn’t mean instant success, though.
It took five years for Gokey to land his first No. 1 song. To keep going, he found himself returning to advice from former “Idol” judge Simon Cowell: “Just make good music. Good music sells.”
“That has been a goal in all that I do,” Gokey said.
It has worked out for the singer-songwriter, who is now based in Nashville. More than awards, Gokey is proud of the impact of his songs. He has heard many stories from listeners “who have used my music to get through really difficult situations in their lives.”
“My overarching theme in a lot of my music is hope,” Gokey said. “It’s the one thing that we can’t live without, in my opinion.”