Joey + Rory Feek — Country’s Greatest Love Stories
Joey and Rory Feek of Joey + Rory were one of country music's most inspirational couples. Their deep Christian faith and award-winning talent were a huge part of their draw, but, most of all, it's their love that filled up fans' hearts. Theirs was a love that truly is "'til death do us part" and stayed steady, even through the toughest battles.
Rory Lee Feek, a native of Kansas, moved to Nashville as a single dad with his two daughters in 1995. He served in the Marines for eight years and even played in a country band while serving in Japan. Meanwhile, Joey Martin grew up in Indiana. As a young girl, she traveled around with her parents, performing at different venues and functions. Music was in their blood, but their paths hadn't yet crossed.
Martin first saw Feek during a songwriters night, and although she was captivated by his music, they didn't meet until two years later. But the bond they shared was immediate, and the couple married on June 15, 2002, just months after they met.
The couple's love only grew stronger through time. After eight years of marriage, Joey Feek confessed, "Not to make you sick or nothing, but Rory and I are best friends. We got into this relationship and got married right away. It was just one of those things where we knew that we were supposed to be together, and every minute of our lives have been a blessing. Sure, there's the first year or two of marriage that you're adapting, and Rory had two teenage daughters, so it was a transition, but we were so happy ..."
She added, "We never feel like, ‘I need my own time, go do your thing, and I'll do mine.' Rory is very computer techy, and I'm more about gardening and roping and being outdoors, but we share so many common things that when we're home, that's our sanity and our time to reflect. Our perfect date night is making a campfire and cooking steaks over the fire and having a glass of wine and decompressing. But we don't want to be separate for one minute. After eight years of marriage, I think that says something."
Their careers continued, separately: Rory Feek wrote hits for Blake Shelton, Easton Corbin and others, and Joey Feek signed with Sony around 2001.
“I had been in Nashville about two years, and I knew nothing about the [music] industry,” she confesses.
By 2007, Joey Feek had opened a restaurant with her husband's sister, and Rory Feek had founded Giantslayer Records. Rory Feek's friend John Bohlinger came to the restaurant one day, heard Joey Feek singing and, a couple months later, suggested that the couple audition for CMT's Can You Duet. They took third place and released their first album as a duo in 2008.
“I don’t think it would have occurred to us to sing together," Rory Feek says. "It’s sort of obvious why: She’s beautiful, and she’s so talented in her own right. She has such an amazing voice, she doesn’t really need anything else with her ... I may be a really good songwriter, but I wouldn’t add any star appeal.”
As a duo, Joey + Rory quickly developed a fan base and burst onto the national country scene. They released several albums, but on their third record, His and Hers, one particular song affected Joey Feek to the core. The tune, "When I'm Gone," is a wife telling her husband that he'll be okay when she's gone.
“I was devastated, absolutely devastated when I heard it and what it meant and coming from the person who is leaving their loved one,” Joey Feek said at the time. “That concept was just something that I had never heard or thought of before, and it really struck me.”
Little did the Feeks know that the song would become the soundtrack of their own lives down the road.
Throughout their relationship, Joey and Rory Feek went through a mix of joys -- baby Indiana was born in 2014, bringing light and joy into their lives in the only way a child can -- and sorrows. Country fans know that story well: Also in 2014, Joey Feek began receiving treatment for cervical cancer. Her cancer returned in 2015, and after treatment and prayers, and hope and devastation, Rory Feek announced that his wife's cancer was terminal.
"Not the answer we hoped for … but the answer He has given us," Rory Feek said at the time. "Joey is at peace with where she is and where she’s going. So am I.”
The couple's faith was unshakable, even in the midst of unimaginable grief. Their hope and joy were palpable, even while experiencing utter disappointment. And their love for one another is too deep to comprehend. Joey and Rory Feek's love story was one of great heartbreak and great love, and country fans will remember Joey + Rory as a couple whose love surpasses fairytales and stands 'til the end of time.