Joey Martin was born in 1975 in Indiana. She grew up singing classic country songs, most notably Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors". She moved to Nashville to pursue a solo country career, but it never panned out. She met and fell in love with an up and coming songwriter named Rory Lee Feek. Rory was a co-writer on big hits like "A Little More Country Than That" by Easton Corbin and "Some Beach" by Blake Shelton. They were married in 2002. Rory had two daughters from a previous marriage, Hopie and Heidi, and he and Joey welcomed their first daughter together, Indiana, in 2014. The couple, a great singer and a great writer, became a duo and competed on the CMT reality show Can You Duet? in 2008. They placed third, and it was a strong enough showing to earn them a record deal. Their first album, The Life Of A Song, produced the hit single "Cheater, Cheater" that gave the duo a national audience. They never experienced superstardom, as they refused to give in to current trends and stayed traditional. However, they had a top 25 hit with "When I'm Gone" in 2012. They starred in their own television show, The Joey + Rory Show, on RFD-TV. The show focused on their family, their small farm, and all of the great opportunities that country music had led them to. The show proved one thing: this was not your average famous couple. Their love for each other, for God, and for a simple life outweighed their fame. They were truly just normal people, who happened to be country stars. In 2014, Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She fought bravely, but in August 2015, the couple decided to end treatments. Rory kept fans posted through his blog This Life I Live throughout her final months. Joey was able to spend time with family, see Indiana open her Christmas presents, and spend Valentine's Day with her husband. She received well wishes from many musicians, including Bill Gaither and a particularly emotional one from Dolly Parton. She died on March 4th, 2016.
Putting into words the impact that Joey + Rory have had on my life is hard. From the first time I saw them on CMT, I was a fan. I loved the way that they refused to let fame dictate their personality or their music. They loved traditional country music, so that's what they sang. Rory's guitar boldly had written across the front "We Miss Country Music". I knew they were just like me. When I started dating the girl who would later become my wife, one of the things we would do together was watch The Joey + Rory Show. I often wondered if it was even possible to find someone who I could love and who could love me in return as much as Joey and Rory loved each other. I soon found out it was true. On December 29th 2012, I asked my wife to marry me. I did so in the front of the Ryman Auditorium during the Grand Ole Opry. Craig Campbell and I had been communicating on Twitter, and he gave me a shout-out and a chance to ask my bride to marry me in the same building that Johnny and June began their romance. It was perfect. Also performing that night was one of our very favorite duos, Joey + Rory. They were signing autographs after the show, and they congratulated us on our engagement. We enjoy telling everybody that Joey + Rory were the first two people to offer us well wishes. When it came time to get married, "Born To Be Your Woman" by Joey + Rory was our wedding song and first dance. We saw the way that they loved each other, God, and the simple things in life. We wanted a marriage like that. We now live on our own little farm similar to Joey and Rory. We don't have any hit songs on the radio, or any tours coming up, but I like to think that we are still living pretty similarly to Joey and Rory because the fame wasn't what was most important to them.
When Joey ended her treatment, Rory was right by her side for everything. In June 2012, my dad suffered a heart attack. He was never the same. For two years, he required around the clock care and a lot of prayer. My mom was right by his side, along with my brother, and I think we did a pretty good job of being there for my dad through his hardest time. I see a lot of my family in how Rory has handled this situation. I watched my mom pray for my dad every day, and saw my dad (who was never the praying type) tear up and struggle to say amen when she was done. Even though our world was crumbling, my mom (and my dad) never gave up faith. In fact, their faith grew. Joey and Rory did the same thing. Rather than curse God, they recorded an entire album of hymns. They thanked God for their time together. When Joey finally passed away, Rory knew he would miss her deeply, but he was also happy that she was in heaven and free from pain. When my dad passed away in June 2014, we felt the same way.
Sometimes there are people who you never really formally know that can influence your life. Joey + Rory had a lot of parallels to my life. They didn't even know it, but their lives inspired much of my, my family's, and my wife's lives. They were there the night I asked my wife to marry me. They were there for our first dance as husband and wife under the stars in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. They reminded me of my family through their hard times. And even in death, Joey is still inspiring us. What an amazing couple. What an amazing life Joey Feek lived. She really did have the American dream. She found true love, made money doing what she loved, and lived on a farm surrounded by people who loved her. Most importantly, she had a faith for God that was unwavering, unshakable, and unbeatable. Losing Joey Feek was a terrible loss for this world, but a great gain for heaven. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rory, Indiana, Hopie, and Heidi.
Revelation 21:4 - And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
"That's Important To Me"
"When I'm Gone"
"Softly And Tenderly"