Joey Feek of the Country Duo Joey + Rory Has Died

photo: Angela Talley
photo: Angela Talley

Joey Feek’s long, courageous, heartbreaking, and inspiring battle with abdominal Cancer has ended. The singer, and one half of the Grammy-nominated husband-and-wife singing duo Joey + Rory passed away Friday, March 4th at 2:30 p.m. at her home according to her husband Rory Feek, surrounded by family. She was 40-years-old.

My precious bride breathed her last. And a moment later took her first breath on the other side.

Joey Feek was first diagnosed with cervical Cancer in June of 2014, shortly after the birth of the couple’s daughter, Indiana, who was born with Down Syndrome. Feek underwent surgery and numerous treatments, but the Cancer continued to return. But Joey and Rory’s faith never wavered, despite their story unfolding like a tragedy whose every next turn became more unbelievable and tragic. Then on October 23rd, 2015 after a terminal diagnosis from doctor’s, Joey + Rory decided to cease treatment.

So we did what you do when the medicine isn’t working, and the doctors are at a loss”¦and when the ‘statistics” say you can do more chemo, but it will only buy you a little time”¦We came home. Not to die.  But to live,” Rory Lee Feek said in a blog post.

Throughout Joey + Rory’s struggle and well into Joey’s hospice treatment, Rory kept fans, friends, and family informed in poignant and touching letters on his This Life I Live page, sharing pictures, memories, and moments in Joey’s final days, including many instances of life and hope. On January 9th, Rory informed readers that things had taken a turn for the worse.

“And now, here I sit beside my dying wife,” Rory said, “I don’t say those words lightly. As a matter-of-fact, I haven’t said them at all. But my beautiful bride has said them to me in these couple of days. Her pain and discomfort has continued to increase daily and so has the morphine to help her be comfortable. The dosage she’s needed to keep the pain away has quadrupled in the last four days. I’d like to tell you that she’s doing great and is going to beat this thing. But I can’t. Yesterday with tears in her eyes and mine, Joey held my hand and told me that she has been having serious talks with Jesus. She said she told him that if He’s ready to take her”¦ she’s ready to come home.”

But Joey Feek defied the odds and made it until the Grammy Awards on February 15th, and her daughter’s birthday, also in February. The duo had been surprised by a Grammy nomination for Best Country Duo / Group Performance for the song “If I Needed You.”

Then on February 29th, Rory informed the public Joey had reached the final stages of life.

Joey has done all she set out to do”¦ even right to the very end, and by sheer will-power (and God’s grace), she was still here to to see our baby’s 2nd birthday. Over the last number of weeks her pain had gotten worse and her health had continued to decline rapidly. And not long after Indy’s birthday my wife decided that ‘enough is enough’. She was ready to stop fighting and she told me so. She said the flowers would soon be blooming back in Tennessee. It’s time to go home.

Joey Martin was born on on September 7, 1975 in Alexandria, Indiana. Her first public performance was when she was 8-years-old and sang Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors” at a first-grade talent show. In 1988, Joey moved to Nashville to pursue a career in country music, first working at a veterinary clinic for horses, and eventually signing to Sony Records in 2000. She recorded an album for Sony, however a business dispute resulted in the record being shelved, and Joey’s career was put on hold. Joey married songwriter and performer Rory Lee Feek in 2002, and first worked with Rory professionally to release a solo album called Strong Enough to Cry on Rory’s independently-owned Giantslayer Records. They soon began performing as a duet, and competed as part of CMT’s Can You Duet competition in 2008, placing third.

The CMT opportunity landed the couple a deal with Sugar Hill Records, who released their first album The Life of a Song in October of 2008. Their lead single, “Cheater, Cheater,” became a Top 30 hit and put the duo on the map. Another song, “When I’m Gone” from 2012, was their highest-charting single, coming in at #21. The song, along with the music of Joey + Rory has enjoyed a resurgence of interest during Joey’s very public Cancer battle.

In total, Joey + Rory released eight studio albums, won Top New Vocal Duo of the Year at the ACM Awards in 2010, and were also nominated for Top Vocal Duo three times by the ACM’s, and twice by the CMA’s.

Joey + Rory were also favorites among more traditional country fans and country fans of faith. They also had their own television show on RFD-TV, The Joey + Rory Show. Their music and story has inspired many, and Joey’s Cancer battle became a story of national interest well beyond the country music world.

Joey Marin Feek is survived by her husband Rory, daughter Indiana, two stepdaughters Hopie and Heidi Feek, and four siblings—Jody, Julie, Justin and Jessie.

© 2024 Saving Country Music