"American Idol" contestant Danny Gokey's hometown is throwing out the welcome mat with plans for a parade, concert and an invitation for him to sing the national anthem at a Milwaukee Brewers game.
The 29-year-old church music director from Milwaukee and the other two contestants who made the cut Wednesday night — Adam Lambert from San Diego and Kris Allen from Conway, Ark. — are visiting their hometowns in the two weeks leading up to the May 19-20 finale.
VISIT Milwaukee spokesman Dave Fantle said producers are bringing Gokey back to Milwaukee for a free public mini-concert, a parade and Gokey singing the national anthem at Friday's Brewers-Chicago Cubs game.
Gokey volunteers at Faith Builders Christian Church, which has locations in Milwaukee and Beloit. The Beloit location planned a screening of theshow Wednesday evening after a service and also plans to show Friday morning's concert with Gokey at the Milwaukee location.
Gokey lost his wife, Sophia, to a congenital heart defect four weeks before he auditioned for the show in Kansas City, Mo. In an interview posted on the show's Web site, Gokey said he and his wife agreed he would try out for "American Idol" before she died.
He called her his "biggest inspiration."
"We were happy and we were going to move forward, and then she passed away," he said in an interview posted on "Idol's" Web site. "Something on the inside of me just bubbled up, and I feel like I have so much purpose, I feel like there's a message that I have to give."
Faith Builders Pastor Jeff Pruitt said he met Gokey in 2000 when he joined the church and within a year Pruitt asked Gokey to lead the praise and worship team.
It took Pruitt a little while to get used to seeing Gokey on television.
"It was very emotional to see him up there," he said. "I was at home and I just cried like a baby. I was so proud of this kid and to see what he walked through losing his wife in August and to see him come out of total despair and have something to look forward to in life. It was totally surreal."
The top 10 "American Idol" contestants are starting a nationwide concert tour kicking off in July in Oregon. It hits Milwaukee Aug. 28 and Madison Sept. 4.
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