Joey Feek was an American country and bluegrass singer, one half of the husband and wife musical duo Joey + Rory. She was the duo’s lead vocalist while Rory sang background vocals and played guitar. The couple first rose to fame following their participation in CMT's competition ‘Can You Duet’ in 2008 in which they were the third-place finalist. Following the competition they signed a deal with Sugar Hill/Vanguard Records and released their debut album which spawned the popular hit ‘Cheater, Cheater’. Born to music loving parents in Alexandria, Indiana, she inherited her singing talent from her mother, a gospel singer. She started singing at a young age and gave her first performance when she was six years old at a first grade talent show with her father strumming his guitar beside her. Raised in a close-knit farming community, she loves traditional country music and idolized singer Dolly Parton as a little girl. She embarked on a career as a country singer and met fellow singer Rory with who she fell in love. The couple married and started performing as the duo Joey + Rory. In addition to her singing career, she also owned and operated a country diner along with her sister-in-law.
Childhood & Early Life
Joey Feek was born on September 7, 1975 in Alexandria, Indiana, a small farming and factory town, to Jack and his wife June as one of their five children. Both of her parents are musically inclined—her father plays the guitar while her mother was a gospel singer.
Raised in a simple farming community, Joey grew up around horses, barns and cattle, and developed a love for country music. She loved to sing from a young age and gave her first performance ather first grade talent show, where she sang ‘Coat of Many Colors’ with her father playing guitar.
She idolized singers like Loretta, Patty and Dolly Parton and aspired to make it big as a professional singer.
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After graduating from high school she took up ajob as an assistant for a horse veterinarian. She worked there for the next three years even as she simultaneously pursued her passion by singing around Madison county in a band and individually.
In the late 1990s Joey decided to move to Nashville in order to further her chances of building a successful singing career. In August 1998 she moved to a small rustic cabin in Lewisburg, an hour south of Nashville, to work for another horse veterinarian.
In addition to her job, she continued trying for singing opportunities and was able to sign a contract with Sony Records in 2000. She proceeded to record an album but industry problems prevented the album from being released. Disappointed but still hopeful, she recorded another album ‘Strong Enough to Cry’, in 2004. But this album too was shelved.
Married to fellow country singer Rory since 2002, the duo auditioned for CMT’s competition ‘Can You Duet’ in 2008. They cleared the audition and went on to become one of the favorite duos in the show. They eventually became the third-place finalist.
The show helped the couple—now known as Joey + Rory—garnersome much needed exposure in the music industry and they soon signed to Sugar Hill/Vanguard Records. Their debut album ‘The Life of a Song’ was released in October 2008. The album’s lead single ‘Cheater, Cheater’ was a Top 40 hit on the Billboard country charts.
In 2010 they released the album ‘Album Number Two’ which featured the singles ‘This Song's for You’ and ‘That's Important to Me’, the latter of which peaked at No.58 on the Hot Country Songs chart.
Joey + Rory released their first Christmas album ‘A Farmhouse Christmas’ in October 2011. The album contains 12 tracks, including ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Blue Christmas’ as well as a cover of Merle Haggard's ‘If We Make It Through December’ featuring background vocals from Haggard.
In July 2012, the duo’s third studio album ‘His and Hers’ was released. The major singles were ‘When I'm Gone’ and ‘Josephine’ which were simultaneously released to radio before the album. The album debuted at No. 24 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums and No. 19 on U.S. Billboard Independent Albums charts.
The year 2013 saw the release of their album ‘Made to Last’, whichdebuted at No. 44 on the Top Country Albums chart. It was followed by the release of ‘Country Classics: A Tapestry of Our Musical Heritage’ in 2014.
Joey + Rory’s debut album ‘The Life of a Song’ spawned the single ‘Cheater, Cheater’ which became a Top 40 hit on the Hot Country Songs charts. The album itself debuted at No. 10 on the Top Country albums and at No. 61 on the Billboard 200, selling approximately 8,000 copies in the first week.
Awards & Achievements
Joey + Rory won the Academy of Country Music Awards’ Top New Vocal Duo of the Year in 2010.
In 2011, they won the Inspirational Country Music Award in the category Vocal Duo.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 2002, Joey met fellow singer Rory at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and fell in love with him. The couple soon tied the knot. After several years of marriage, they became parents to a daughter in 2014.
Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014. She underwent aggressive treatment to cure the disease but the cancer returned and spread to her colon. She began receiving in-house, end-of-life hospice palliative care at her home in November 2015.
She died of cervical cancer on March 4, 2016, at the age of 40.