Joey Feek

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Joey Feek
Joey Feek (cropped).jpg
Joey Feek at the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards in 2010
Joey Marie Martin[1]

(1975-09-09)September 9, 1975[2]
DiedMarch 4, 2016(2016-03-04) (aged 40)
Alexandria, Indiana
Resting placeFeek Family Farm Cemetery
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Spouse(s)Rory Lee Feek (m. 2002; her death 2016)
ChildrenIndiana Boon Feek (born February 17, 2014)[3] Step-daughters Heidi Feek (born 1986) and Hopie Feek (born 1988)
Musical career
GenresCountry, Christian country
Years active2008–16
Associated actsJoey + Rory, Zac Brown Band, Blaine Larsen (back-up vocals)

Joey Marie Feek (September 9, 1975 – March 4, 2016) was an American country music singer and songwriter. From 2008 to 2016, the duo Joey + Rory comprised her and her husband, Rory Feek.[4]

Life and musical career[edit]

Joey Marie Feek was born Joey Marie Martin on September 9, 1975 in Alexandria, Indiana, to Jack and June Martin. She was the middle child of five children: 3 sisters (Jody, Julie, Jessie) and 1 younger brother, Justin, who in 1994 died in a car accident very close to the Martin family farm.[5] She was encouraged by her father, who played guitar, to start singing and performing at an early age[6] She moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1998 to pursue a career as an assistant at a horse vet clinic, and established connections with LeAnn Rimes's father, Wilbur, and Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn. At a songwriter night, she met songwriter Rory Lee Feek, whom she married in June 2002.[7] She sang backing vocals on Blaine Larsen's 2004 album Off to Join the World, which her husband co-produced.[8] Joey was signed to Sony Nashville and recorded an unreleased solo album in 2005 titled Strong Enough to Cry, but due to change in management and restructuring at Sony, her album was shelved.[9][10] The album, retitled If Not For You, was eventually released by Farmhouse Recordings on April 7, 2017.[11]

Rise to fame[edit]

In 2008, a friend suggested that Joey and Rory try out for Can You Duet, a talent show airing on CMT with the purpose of finding the next great country duo. They made an audition tape and came up with the name "Joey + Rory," and finished in third place on Can You Duet. The duo were signed to Sugar Hill/Vanguard Records, who released their first three studio albums.[10] The duo released eight albums overall and charted a Top 30 Hot Country Songs hit with "Cheater, Cheater".[2] Feek co-wrote many of the songs on the albums with her husband.

Birth of child[edit]

Expecting a baby in early 2014 the couple decided to spend the year at home, taking a break from their music career to raise their new baby.[12] On February 17, 2014, Indiana was born at home with midwives, surrounded by Rory, her big sisters, and Grandma June.[13] Home birth was an experience Joey described as one of the best moments of her life.[14] In the days immediately following Indy's birth, the couple learned that she had Down syndrome.[14]

Cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment[edit]

A few months later in May 2014, Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer.[15] After surgery and treatment, she was declared cancer free and did not receive any radiation or chemotherapy as her surgeons declared the surgery to be a success with the cancer removed with clean margins.[16] In June 2015, after the family had finished filming their movie Josephine,[17] Joey was not feeling well again and sought medical advice.[17] After undergoing further medical testing, it was discovered that the cervical cancer had returned and metastasized to her colon.[18]

Cancer relapse[edit]

In July 2015, Joey underwent a second surgery to remove a 3-inch tumor (recurrence of cervical cancer) that had invaded her colon and surrounding structures. The surgery was long and involved and required the use of inter-operative radiation as there were tumors the surgeon could not get clear margins on.[19] Still, the medical team was hopeful for Joey's situation, and she recovered from surgery to continue on to endure an intense round of radiation and chemo in the summer of 2015.[20] While undergoing treatment at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Joey would record hymns in their hotel room for the last CD the couple would create together, Hymns That Are Important to Us.[21]

In October 2015, Rory revealed in a blog post that Joey's cancer was terminal, and they were stopping all treatment as the chemo and radiation she had suffered through for the last few months were not working. The MRI "scans revealed that two quarter-sized tumors have already grown back in the same area that they had been blasting daily with chemo and radiation [and] that many more smaller tumors were visible all throughout the abdominal region. She said that the cancer was aggressively spreading".[22] There were no more treatment options available and all there was left to do was keep Joey as comfortable as possible for the time she had left.[23]

Hospice care and death[edit]

On November 9, 2015, Rory announced via his blog THIS LIFE I LIVE[7] that Joey had entered hospice care and they had decided to focus on living the time that Joey had left and not focus on the doctor's timeline for her survival.[24] In November 2015, she began receiving home hospice care at her mother's home in Alexandria, Indiana, where she started to rapidly decline. Concerned that she did not have as much time left to live as the doctors had given her, Joey asked Rory if they could remain in Alexandria because she took her first breath there and she wanted to take her last breath there. Joey's older sister, Jody, a registered nurse, provided end-of-life support for her sister in conjunction with home hospice.[7] In a November 2015 interview with The Tennessean, Joey stated that she was not angry with God, but was disappointed that after undergoing radical gynecological surgery to eradicate the cancer, it had returned as inoperable, unresponsive to treatment, and terminal.

Rory continued to blog their experience, and the couple maintained a positive attitude and demeanor in her last weeks and months, and even when the situation looked grim they never gave up hope.[25][26][27][28][29] However, in January 2016, her morphine dose needed to keep the cancer pain under control had quadrupled. Rory revealed in a blog post titled "When I'm Gone" that, following an emotional talk with Joey and reflecting that they had been able to spend Christmas and the New Year with their family and friends, as opposed to before when they were still more optimistic, they both had come to terms with and accepted her terminal diagnosis and worsening health.[30] She was able to celebrate Indiana's second birthday and Valentine's Day with her and Rory, see them receive a Grammy nomination for the song "If I Needed You",[31] and see and hear the final recording the duo would make together, an album of hymns that Joey had always wanted to make that debuted at number 8 on the Billboard 200 when it was released, and peaked at number 4 on the Billboard 200 3 weeks after its release.[32][21]

At the end of February 2016, after saying her goodbyes to her family and relatives, Joey told Rory that she was "ready to stop fighting", and that she was very tired and it was time for her to go as the "flowers would soon be blooming back in Tennessee".[33] She then fell into a deep sleep for about one week, from which she was not expected to awaken.[7] Rory posted a goodbye tribute video and continued to remain at his wife's side as she entered her last few days. The couple had reached every milestone that they had realistically set—Christmas and the New Year, Valentine's Day, the Grammys, and Indiana's second birthday.[34][35][36] She was pronounced dead on March 4, 2016, at approximately 2:30pm. She was 40 years old. Honoring her wishes, Rory held a private funeral on their farm in Tennessee and Joey was buried in the family cemetery on the Feek farm, where Rory's mother had been buried in 2014 and where Rory himself will be buried.[37][38]

To Joey, With Love[edit]

On what would have been their 14th wedding anniversary, Rory Feek announced that as an anniversary gift to his late wife he had decided to make a film about her, To Joey, With Love.[39] On his blog, Rory Feek shared that he had accumulated 9 terabytes of video footage from the last 30 months of their lives together, and that watching this footage helped him to remember what his wife was like when she was full of life and not sick with cancer.[39] Along with a small team of his creative partners, Rory Feek managed to finish the film during Spring and Summer 2016, and it is scheduled to play in select theatres across the United States on September 20, 2016, with some cities planning an additional showing for early October 2016.[39]

Rory Lee Feek continues to live in the farmhouse he shared with Joey and their children, where he is busy raising Indiana, their daughter who has Down Syndrome, and where Joey has been laid to rest in the family cemetery on the farm that she loved.[40]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions Sales
US Country
If Not For You (Previously released independently as Strong Enough to Cry)
  • Release date: April 7, 2017
  • Label: Farmhouse Recordings
  • Formats: CD, music download
6 50


  1. ^ McClellan, Laura (March 7, 2016). "Joey Feek's Obituary Made Public". Taste of Country. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Joey Martin Feek: A life well-loved". Nash Country Weekly. 23 (13): 40–45. March 28, 2016. ISSN 2379-9137.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Greer, Andrew (March 31, 2016). "Joey Feek – 'He needs me singing up there'". CCM Magazine. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  5. ^ "Dave's Diary - 30/8/09 - Rory & Joey". August 30, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  6. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d "This Life I Live". This Life I Live. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  8. ^ Off to Join the World (CD insert). Blaine Larsen. BNA Records. 2005. 66012.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ "Welcome to Nu Country TV". Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "just say yes — This Life I Live". April 7, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  11. ^
  12. ^ "reading Ina May — This Life I Live". January 24, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  13. ^ "we were born yesterday — This Life I Live". February 18, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  14. ^ a b "heart check — This Life I Live". February 21, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  15. ^ "Joey Martin Feek Undergoes Surgery After Cancer Diagnosis". The Boot. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  16. ^ "home of the brave - Joey, courage and cancer — This Life I Live". June 25, 2014. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  17. ^ a b "a prayer for cancer — This Life I Live". June 14, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  18. ^ "Joey + Rory's Joey Martin Feek Battling Stage IV Cancer". Nash Country Weekly. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  19. ^ "stage 4 love — This Life I Live". Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  20. ^ "ring the bell — This Life I Live". October 3, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  21. ^ a b "a song to sing — This Life I Live". August 31, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  22. ^ "enough — This Life I Live". October 23, 2015. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  23. ^ "Joey + Rory's Joey Feek Stops Cancer Treatment". The Boot. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  24. ^ "This Life I Live". This Life I Live. Retrieved November 16, 2015.
  25. ^ "Joey Feek Gives A Brave Smile From Hospice Care in Latest Photo With Her Family". November 19, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  26. ^ "Joey Feek Shares Health Update as Her Final Days Near: 'God Had Different Plans'". November 14, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  27. ^ "Rory Feek Shares Update on Joey's Cancer Battle: 'I Want My Wife to Be Remembered'". November 12, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  28. ^ "A day with Joey Martin Feek: 'I don't fear anything'". November 16, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  29. ^ "Joey + Rory: Prayers sadly answered". November 9, 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  30. ^ "One Last Kiss: Rory Says Joey Feek Is 'Ready to Come Home' to God in Emotional Post". January 9, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  31. ^ "the power of the plus-sign — This Life I Live". January 28, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  32. ^ "Joey + Rory - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  33. ^ "One Last Kiss". This Life I Live. Archived from the original on March 1, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  34. ^ "Joey Feek Cancer Update: Rory Feek Releases Tribute Video Emotional Video–The End Is Near". The Inquisitr News. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  35. ^ "Joey Feek 'stops fighting,' falls into deep sleep". USA TODAY. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  36. ^ Chris Tyler. "Joey Feek Cancer Update: Singer "Holding on and letting go" – dBTechno". dBTechno. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  37. ^ WTHR Channel 13 (March 4, 2016). "Indiana musician Joey Feek dies after long cancer fight". Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  38. ^ "Joey Feek Dead at 40: Joey + Rory Country Singer Remembered as Loving Mom After Battling Cervical Cancer". E! Online. March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  39. ^ a b c "to joey, with love — This Life I Live". June 16, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  40. ^ "high hopes — This Life I Live". March 25, 2016. Retrieved September 15, 2016.
  41. ^ "Joey Feek Album & Song Chart History: Country Albums". Billboard. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
  42. ^ "Joey Feek Album & Song Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved August 20, 2010.
  43. ^ Bjorke, Matt (September 24, 2018). "Top 10 Country Albums Sales Chart: September 24, 2018". Roughstock. Retrieved September 27, 2018.