Joey Feek (1975-2016)

Joey Feek (1975-2016)
Joey + Rory performs at the Riverfront Daytime Stage in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey + Rory performs at the Riverfront Daytime Stage in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey Martin Feek, the Joey + Rory singer whose uplifting life story and dauntless courage in her struggle with cancer became an inspiration for thousands, passed away today, March 4, at the age of 40.

The singer stopped treatment for an aggressive cervical cancer in October 2015 and entered hospice care in her home state of Indiana on Nov. 9. Fans and those who learned of Feek’s diagnosis through social media followed her treatment and struggle through moving blog posts written by her husband and duo partner Rory Feek.

“The industry and Joey + Rory fans around the world have been following her courageous battle and have watched in awe her grace and unwavering faith,” said Sarah Trahern, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “Their love story was an inspiration through so much adversity and so many exceptional moments of bravery.”

Rory Feek captured his wife’s struggle in her final months with stark honesty and the kind of loving portrayal those who are close to the couple are familiar with: “I want my wife to be remembered. By me. By others who love her even though they’ve never met her. I guess that’s why I write this blog. I want her sweet voice and her love to live on … And someday when your moment comes with someone you love … maybe, just maybe, you will remember Joey and her words and voice and life will comfort you … and her song will live on.”

Jon Ashton performs a cooking demonstration with Joey + Rory at the Dr Pepper-McDonald’s Family Zone Stage in Downtown Nashville Thursday, June 11 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Jon Ashton performs a cooking demonstration with Joey + Rory at the Dr Pepper-McDonald’s Family Zone Stage in Downtown Nashville Thursday, June 11 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

While both achieved a measure of success in the music business before meeting, it wasn’t until they combined talents that they found a niche that brought shared notoriety. They released seven albums together, toured extensively, were nominated for industry awards including two CMA Awards Vocal Duo of the Year nods, and gained a nationwide following of fans who appreciated their traditional and inspirational approach.

“We’re experiencing everything together,” Martin Feek said in a 2010 Associated Press interview. “That’s been the highlight of it all.”

Martin Feek grew up in Indiana where she sometimes performed with her parents as a child and fell in love with horses, instilling in her a love for family and a rural, agrarian-based lifestyle. She moved to Nashville with the idea of becoming a singer and soon landed a record deal. She recorded an album, but in the middle of the process saw Feek — a former Marine and single father of two daughters — perform at a songwriters’ pull one night and started to fall in love.

Feek was singing the kind of heartfelt material, written in a plainspoken manner, that interested her in a way the songs she was recording in the studio didn’t. She finished the album, but it was shelved and no singles were released. She married Feek four months after meeting him in 2002 and chose to focus on their life together.
She opened Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse near Columbia, Tenn., with her sister-in-law, starting the day baking bread at 4:00 AM, and helped Feek raise his two teenage daughters in a farmhouse they lovingly restored over several years. In 2008, a friend suggested they try out for the CMT singing contest show “Can You Duet.” It had never occurred to them to sing together professionally. They finished third and landed a record deal with independent label Sugar Hill Records and, later, a deal with the RFD-TV network, where they hosted “The Joey + Rory Show.”

Together the couple achieved many of the goals they had initially set out to reach separately. They released The Life of a Song, the first of seven albums as Joey + Rory, in 2008. Lead single “Cheater Cheater” was a Top 40 hit and the duo soon hit the road, touring extensively until Martin Feek’s health deteriorated in 2015.

The couple released their last album, Hymns That Are Important to Us, in February. The album topped Billboard’s Top Country Albums and Top Christian Albums charts, selling more than 68,000 copies in its first week of release — a career best for the duo. They also were nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “If I Needed You” at the 2016 Grammy Awards.

Martin Feek is survived by her husband, Rory Feek, their two-year-old daughter, Indiana, step-daughters Heidi and Hopie, her parents, and three sisters. Funeral arrangements are pending.

 

Joey + Rory performs at the Riverfront Daytime Stage in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey + Rory performs at the Riverfront Daytime Stage in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey + Rory compete in the New Holland Celebrity Tractor Race in the Sports Zone in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey + Rory compete in the New Holland Celebrity Tractor Race in the Sports Zone in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey and Rory performs at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage in Downtown Nashville on Sunday, June 9 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival.

Joey and Rory performs at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage in Downtown Nashville on Sunday, June 9 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival.

Country Music fans in the Fan Fair Hall on Friday, June 10 during the 2011 CMA Music Festival in Downtown Nashville.

Country Music fans in the Fan Fair Hall on Friday, June 10 during the 2011 CMA Music Festival in Downtown Nashville.

Rory Feek and Joey Martin at Marcy Joe’s Mealhouse.

Rory Feek and Joey Martin at Marcy Joe’s Mealhouse.

Joey + Rory on the Black Carpet presented by Jack Daniel’s at “The 44th Annual CMA Awards,” which will broadcast live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, on the ABC Television Network.

Joey + Rory on the Black Carpet presented by Jack Daniel’s at “The 44th Annual CMA Awards,” which will broadcast live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, on the ABC Television Network.

Joey + Rory performs at the Riverfront Daytime Stage in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey + Rory performs at the Riverfront Daytime Stage in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

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artistpr12-joeyrory-2

Zac Brown Band performs at the Nightly Concerts at LP Field on Saturday, June 12 during the 2010 CMA Music Festival.

Zac Brown Band performs at the Nightly Concerts at LP Field on Saturday, June 12 during the 2010 CMA Music Festival.

Joey + Rory and Country Music fans Sarah Nealey and Katlyn McKeel ofArchdale, NC, in the Greased Lightning Fan Fair Exhibit Hall on Saturday, June 12 during the 2010 CMA Music Festival in Downtown Nashville.

Joey + Rory and Country Music fans Sarah Nealey and Katlyn McKeel ofArchdale, NC, in the Greased Lightning Fan Fair Exhibit Hall on Saturday, June 12 during the 2010 CMA Music Festival in Downtown Nashville.

Joey + Rory perform at the Riverfront Stage on Thursday, June 10 during the 2010 CMA Music Festival in Downtown Nashville.

Joey + Rory perform at the Riverfront Stage on Thursday, June 10 during the 2010 CMA Music Festival in Downtown Nashville.

Joey + Rory at the Red Carpet at "The 43rd Annual CMA Awards," on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009, live from the Sommet Center in Nashville on the ABC Television Network.

Joey + Rory at the Red Carpet at “The 43rd Annual CMA Awards,” on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009, live from the Sommet Center in Nashville on the ABC Television Network.

Joey + Rory with Jessica Santiago from Ft Polk, La., in the Greased Lightning Fan Fair Exhibit Hall in the Nashville Convention Center on Thursday, June 11 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey + Rory with Jessica Santiago from Ft Polk, La., in the Greased Lightning Fan Fair Exhibit Hall in the Nashville Convention Center on Thursday, June 11 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey and Rory Feek greet Bruce Collins from Ashland, Ky., in the truTV Fan Fair Hall at the Nashville Convention Center Saturday, June 7 during the 2008 CMA Music Festival.

Joey and Rory Feek greet Bruce Collins from Ashland, Ky., in the truTV Fan Fair Hall at the Nashville Convention Center Saturday, June 7 during the 2008 CMA Music Festival.

Joey and Rory performs at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage in Downtown Nashville on Sunday, June 9 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival.

Joey and Rory performs at the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage in Downtown Nashville on Sunday, June 9 during the 2013 CMA Music Festival.

Joey + Rory performs at the Riverfront Daytime Stage in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

Joey + Rory performs at the Riverfront Daytime Stage in Downtown Nashville Sunday, June 14 during the 2009 CMA Music Festival.

  • Donna Shawlayman

    So very sad for her passing. What a wonderful love story between the two. Their music and their love was beautiful. God please watch over Indy and Rory and their other 2 daughters. RIP beautiful Joey. I only wished I knew you longer.

  • Cat G.

    She was beautiful inside and out – an angel here on earth. My condolences to Rory, Indiana and her family on the death of this extraordinary woman. Please know that our hearts are broken at your loss.

  • Danny’sgirl

    So sad. May you rest in peace, Joey, and may God rest your soul and comfort your loved ones.