The first time I heard Joey Martin Feek sing was on fellow Washington state native Blaine Larsen's debut albumIn My High School via Giantslayer Records, a label Rory Lee Feek co-owned with the late songwriter Tim Johnson. The album, which was later re-issued by Sony Music Nashville as Off To Join The world, featured a song called “Teaching Me How To Love You” which Rory co-wrote. My ears instantly perked up and later I would learn that “Joey Martin” was “Rory Lee”’s beautiful bride.
In time, Joey would release a solo album, the fine Strong Enough To Cry, via Giantslayer Records before teaming with the love of her life, Rory, to audition for the CMT program Can You Duet in 2008. While they didn’t win that program, the show did earn them a record deal with Sugar Hill and Vanguard Records. It was because of that show and record contract that I was able to first meet Joey + Rory (at Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse). Both were instantly friendly but Joey made you feel like you were her long lost friend, one who hadn’t talked in years. It was an easy conversation that eventually went to their lovely farm and visited with neighbors before the conversation ended.
Our conversations over the next few years were just as real and honest and almost always were around family, faith and food. When their career took them to RFD TV and around the world, our conversations became less and less (as time has a way of doing) but I have no doubts that if I’d had made the trek to her family home in Indiana that she would’ve smiled upon seeing me. Joey Martin Feek was always that kind of person.
My heart breaks for Rory, Indiana, Heidi, Hope and the whole family in both Indiana and in Tennessee. The world may never be the same without Joey but her presence (and music) will always be with us. Joey, thank you for your kind spirit, fellowship and more. I’m forever changed for having met you and I cannot imagine anyone else who ever met you feeling any different. Godspeed, sweet Joey, Godspeed.