The husband-and-wife duo Joey + Rory made headlines last year for their heartwarming and heartbreaking story of overcoming hardships through love and family devotion, but now their unique story is being continued through their music.
The award-winning country and bluegrass couple Joey + Rory began their careers as solo artists. A Kansas native, Rory Lee Feek was a songwriter in Nashville and had written for such artists as Clay Walker, Blake Shelton, and Easton Corbin and had also founded his own independent label, Giantslayer Record. Joey Martin, a singer and recording artist originally from Alexandria, Indiana, first saw Rory at the Bluebird Café in Nashville. The two met, fell in love, married in 2002, and became a musical duo as well. They performed on CMT’s Can You Duet; after placing third on the hit show, they signed with Sugar Hill Records.
They recorded as Joey + Rory from 2008 to 2016. The music they made as a couple mapped their journey through life together, including the February 2014 birth of their daughter, Indiana (Indy), who was born with Down Syndrome, and the devastating revelation in 2015 that Joey had been diagnosed with terminal cancer after cervical cancer returned and metastasized to her colon.
After the diagnosis, the duo composed their last album together, a passion project for Joey. The album Hymns That Are Important to Us is a collection of Christian hymns significant to Joey during her childhood and her life as an adult, which was cut short when just about a month after the record’s release she died on March 4, 2016, at age 40.
With pure heartfelt emotion behind it and with the album’s proceeds benefiting the Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Foundation, a charity selected by Joey, the album became an instant success, most recently winning the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Roots Gospel Album.
“Few of us haven’t been touched by the music and message of Joey + Rory as the husband and wife duo have kept their fans informed of Joey’s ongoing battle against cervical cancer,” CCM Magazine wrote. “In what they knew would be their final musical release, Joey + Rory have made another inspiring and courageous statement with Hymns That Are Important to Us.”
Joey’s talent, influence, and story live on through her music; family; Rory’s powerful blog, This Life I Live; and the film To Joey, With Love. The posthumous release of If Not For You, a solo album collection of previously unreleased traditional country songs that Joey recorded before gaining worldwide fame, is set for April 7.
“It’s one of the great joys of my life to dust these songs off and bring them to life again,” Rory says in the album’s liner notes. “Not just the songs, but also the stories and the life of the special woman that these songs represent.”
Watch the uplifting video of Joey + Rory performing “If I Needed You” live at the Grand Ole Opry.