Danny Gokey says one of his goals - post "American Idol" - is to make glasses cool for kids. "They've (eyeglasses) kind of got a reputation as being nerdy."
Danny, 29, was typical of most of the top finishers on the show. It's over (except for the summer tour), and he's exhausted - both mentally and physically. However, after last week's hoopla-filled trip to hometown Milwaukee, he has a new appreciation for the massive fan base he's built.
"They affirm me as an artist," he says. "They believe in me and see something inside me. I just hope they support me when the CD drops."
Danny spoke with "Idol" reporters today after little sleep following last night's results show. Here's what he had to say about his experiences - and moving forward.
Q: Folks still can't stop talking about "Dream On" more than a week later. There are even "Scream On!" signs. Can you reflect on that song choice and the performance?
A: Actually, I was thinking about it this morning. And it could have been my downfall. I wanted a big song because it was rock week. I took a risk. And I rehearsed that scream so much I hurt my vocal chords. They were sore on the visit home and are still sore now.
Q: You've always been a front-runner who has received a lot of praise. How much pressure does that put on you?
A: I felt I had to outdo myself every week. It was just another battle. I'm still growing as a musician, and I felt like sometimes I wasn't there yet. I've only watched one season of the show (last year), and there's so much heaped on one person. You can be disappointing. And others can show up and not expect to wow (the audience) but they do. I believe I gave it a really good try.
Q: Your final performance of "You Are So Beautiful" was really good. Had you thought yesterday you might be leaving the show. so why not go out with a bang, especially after Kris (Allen) was the first saved?
A: I knew it was it for me. I was confident in that. The whole day I thought so. I'm competitive by nature. Yes, I would have done some things differently, but I'm proud of my accomplishments. I kept my head up and saw a strength in me I didn't know I had.
Q: Obviously you're quite close to the remaining two contestants, including Adam Lambert (pictured). Can you describe them - both personally and professionally?
A: Kris is really artistic, and Adam has a way of capturing the audience. Kris is also very mellow, and I've always wanted that trait. I'm an intense personality. Adam is very creative. He lives creative. He dresses creative. That said, I encourage people to vote (next week) because you can't have assumptions. I feel like it will be a very tight race.
Q: What did you learn from your "Idol" experiences?
A: A lot about myself and about pressure! I learned to overcome things, like insecurities and doubt. There were times when I didn't want to go out on that stage. I kept thinking, "Will they like it?" I was thankful for my performances this week because I made myself do it.
Q: How do you see yourself changing the music industry?
A: I really want to start a movement with my music. Find the soul in me. I want to change people's hearts. I can see a concert that opens by following a story. Maybe a kid whose father is killed by a gang. How does he overcome that? I want to entertain the audience, but I also want them to come out of their zone for a little bit. To walk away feeling good - not just a temporary good - and wanting to make a change. It might sound cheesy, but that's my testimonial: overcoming adversity.
Q: Will you get back to the foundation you started in your wife's memory?
A: Absolutely. It's called Sophia's Heart Foundation. I left it because of the show so I want to get back to grow it. It means so much to me. It's the legacy of my wife and me on this earth, even though she's gone. I even want to come out with a line of eyeglasses. I've got my vision planned out (no pun intended). I want to appeal to kids and get them involved in music through the foundation because music helps them learn.
Q: What type of album do you see yourself recording?
A: I want to do something soulful. Mix it with some nice R&B beats. Get people's hands moving. There will be a bit of a Latin vibe because Sophia was Latin, and I love that music.
Q: What did the judges say to you after last night's elimination?
A: If I remember correctly, Simon (Cowell) said I was one of a kind and a phenomenal singer. The whole competition I wanted to please them because theirs are the most popular opinions in the business. I hugged them and thanked them.
Q: Has your eyeglass collection grown since you've been on the show, and would you entertain the idea of being an eyewear model?
A: I would love to be an eyeglass model! I might start a "Danny" or "Gokey" line. I started off with 15 pairs; now it's about 50 or more. Blessings of glasses have rained from the sky.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: I'm thankful for the opportunity. On this call, I can open up because I don't have to worry about being judged. I was a nobody, and "American Idol" turned me into a someboy. The best is yet to come.