Danny Gokey, the likable Wisconsin native who was a strong finalist last year on "American Idol," will perform and sign autographs Friday at the Mall of America's Best Buy rotunda.

Gokey released his debut album Tuesday, "My Best Days." His first single, "My Best Days Are Ahead of Me," is being called the "feel-good country song of 2010" by Billboard.

Gokey was a front-runner in the 2009 "American Idol" competition from the beginning, performing before 30 million viewers weekly for three months.

On Thursday, Gokey makes his return to FOX-TV's "American Idol" for a guest performance.

The Milwaukee native credits his late wife, Sophia, with inspiring him to go on the show. He started his charity, Sophia's Heart Foundation, in her memory.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482