Danny Gokey battled tragedy and won millions of hearts on his way to the finals of American Idol Season 8.  His story was no secret: a onetime truck driver from Milwaukee, he’d married his high school sweetheart Sophia only to lose her, a victim of surgery gone bad, just a month before auditioning for the smash hit talent show.

That was enough to transfix viewers week after week. Add to that his singing — expressive, soulful, driven but yet in command of emotions that would have overpowered practically anyone else. The result was a performance that moved audiences to tears and inspired many to face adversity with greater courage.

Today Danny Gokey stands at a different place, wiser, stronger. He’s married and has become a father. Once paled by clouds, his world now bathes in a brighter light — the same light that illuminates his extraordinary new album.

On Rise, Gokey refocuses. No longer is he fighting to get through round after round for Idol without succumbing to grief. Now, his passion is to touch people who like him have suffered moments of hopelessness. His mission is far from over, but what he achieves through his music, as an artist and a messenger, is another step towards this.

“I wanted to share my journey through the music on this album,” Gokey explains. “I have a story to tell to which I hope others will relate and I’ve realized that I have this gift of music through which to tell it. On Rise, I feel like I’ve really figured out how to connect my message with the music.”