(I’m stepping out of my typical post format to talk about a special lady that was taken from us way too soon, Joey Martin Feek)
I want to tell you about Joey Martin Feek. Everyone knows this world can be a rotten place to be. In fact it can be downright vicious. Everyday it seems there’s no shortage of people doing stupid, horrible things for sure. In this case it kicked a good hearted, genuinely pure and loving spirited person square in the teeth. To put it all into perspective I have to rewind back to 2008. Flipping through the channels one day I landed on a show called “Can You Duet?” on country music tv. I’m actually not a big fan of these types of shows but what I heard in the first few seconds had my undivided attention. I heard a female singer that had one of the most beautiful voices ever. Sweet and smooth with a slight smoky quality. But before I go any further I want to make it clear, I’m not a fanboy of anyone. I have my favorite musicians and bands that I listen to but I’m not over the top about anyone. So there I am listening to this singer who actually had a male duet partner and it was the combination of their voices that sounded so natural. What I saw was this very pretty 30 something lady with long straight dark hair, dressed in jeans, boots, and a cowboy shirt with the voice of an angel, and her partner. In his 40’s, his redish blond hair cut in a flat top, and wearing overalls and playing guitar and singing. What was funny was that I never thought they looked odd or strange together or anything of that nature. On the contrary, I took one look and I could tell there was something about these two. They belong together and they were very much in love. You couldn’t miss that fact even if you were stone blind. And I don’t mean they were acting like teenagers, they were just in love and it showed. Naomi Judd was one of the judges of that show and she had already seen it and even mentioned it and was smitten by the couple. And let me tell you they were as authentic country as you will ever find. They lived on a farm and raised animals and grew produce and did chores all with a smile. They were the real deal and it showed. What you see is exactly what you get with this duo. I’m talking about Joey & Rory. Joey Martin Feek and her husband Rory Feek. They were the reason I had to watch every episode of the show all season long. Like I said up front, I’m not a fanboy of anybody but Joey & Rory had struck a chord with me during the first 30 seconds of that first performance I saw. And they continued to touch something inside me that just made me want more. I couldn’t get enough of them. I’ve followed their career ever since that show in which they came in third (even though they were the heavy odds on favorites to win). But they had established themselves as bonafide country music stars and signed a record deal and everything so their careers were on the rise and they deserved every good thing that came their way. Rory was the songwriter and Joey had the voice and passion that when you mixed it all together they produced magic. They performed a variety of songs from the spiritual to traditional country and even songs with a humorous side. Songs like “Play the Song”, “Cheater Cheater” “To Say Goodbye” and “Granny’s Got Her Daisy Dukes On”. They even took the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic “Free Bird” and turned it into a waltz, and they nailed it beautifully (see videos below). Their fans felt like they were family. That’s how Joey & Rory made you feel, like you were part of something special. They hadn’t been married but a few years before the Duet show and after the show they concentrated on careers as they toured all over the country performing. They had a Joey & Rory TV show and a radio show as well. Then they found out Joey was pregnant which they were deliriously happy about it. Never a negative word about being sidelined by a pregnancy or any hint that they were anything but overjoyed about the new life they would soon welcome into the family. They had a little girl, Indiana Boone, and she was born with downs syndrome.
Again, never a bad thought or word and their enthusiasm never dimmed even a tiny bit and they loved this little girl with all the passion and love they had in them. They were completely devoted to her. All of these things only pulled me in deeper as it did all their other fans I’m sure and I truly admired them. They lived the kind of life most of us only dream about but never achieve. A lot of their strength came from their deeply held religious devotion to God and Jesus which they spoke of often. In fact their latest release is a collection of gospel songs titled “Hymns That Are Important To Us”. The album debuted at the top of both the Billboard Country Albums chart and the Christian Albums chart and it charted at number 4 on Billboard’s all-genre Top 200. It’s what came next that flattened them and took the wind out of my sails as well as those of all their other fans. This is where the world bared it’s fangs and sunk them into Joey & Rory, and did so with a malicious vengeance like I’ve never seen. In 2014 Joey was diagnosed with cervical cancer and it was bad. After enduring treatment and surgery it looked like it might have been in remission, but they found it had returned and had already spread to her colon. All the surgeries and chemotherapy in the world weren’t going to help. Joey Martin Feek was dying and no one could stop it. But Joey wasn’t giving up. She was a fighter. They had left the farm in Tenessee and were staying in Joeys hometown of Alexandria, Indiana while she was undergoing various intensive treatments in hospice care. But the cancer was winning and Joey knew it. She was tired. So she made a decision to stop the useless treatments and leave hospice care and live out what was left of her life with those she loved, her family. And that brings us to the saddest of all endings. On March 4th 2016 Joey Martin Feek breathed her last and closed her eyes for the last time. She literally died in the arms of her husband Rory. When I read the news it felt like I had been kicked in the gut, hard. Country music performers, more than any other genre, are like a big family and they were all hit hard by the news.
Everybody that ever met Joey was drawn to her and loved her. Even now I get a sick feeling when I see the words “Joey Feek dead at 40”. I know it’s cliche but I can’t help thinking that the good really do die young. With people walking around this earth that are evil in heart and soul and probably deserve to be removed from it, why did God pick someone that had such a beautiful spirit and was so full of love and compassion to visit this horrible sickness on. There is certainly no shortage of evil, sick, revolting people he could pick from. I don’t get it. Although when you think about it, Joey is with God and Jesus right now, and maybe they just wanted some of her light to envelop and comfort them. Plus I guarantee she’s singing for them too. To Rory, my heartfelt condolences go out to you, and know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. And finally, goodbye Joey. You made everyone within earshot of your voice smile and made their lives a little better whether you knew it or not. In fact you had a profound influence on me personally. You made me want to be a better person. I won’t let you down. May your light shine in heaven as it did here on earth. Be at peace.
- Joey Feek Lives To Celebrate Daughter’s Birthday (contactmusic.com)
- Garry Shandling Dead At 66 (popdust.com)
- Blake Shelton is, As it Turns Out, a Huge Sweetheart (fishwrapper.com)