LifeNotes: Joey Martin Feek Passes

Joey + Rory 2016
Award-winning country vocalist Joey Martin Feek has died of cancer at age 40.

She passed away in her hometown of Alexandria, Indiana, on Friday afternoon, March 4, surrounded by her praying family.

Joey Martin was born in Alexandria on Sept. 9, 1975. Her first performance occurred when she was six years old in elementary school. She sang Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors,” a song that predicted the strong emotionalism and commitment to country that would characterize her career.

She became an accomplished equestrian and often incorporated cowgirl imagery into her songs. Martin moved to Nashville in 1998. She was signed to Sony and recorded with producers Paul Worley and Billy Crain. But this record was never released.

She married established Nashville songwriter Rory Lee Feek in 2002. Her solo CD debut appeared in 2005 on Feek’s Giantslayer label. It was titled Strong Enough to Cry.

The couple settled in an 1870s farmhouse in Pottsville, TN, near Columbia. On days off, Joey Martin Feek worked with her sister-in-law at their rural café, Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse.

Joey + Rory became a duo in 2008 when they competed on the CMT program Can You Duet and finished third. Joey sang lead in the duo.

Signed by Vanguard/Sugar Hill, Joey + Rory released their debut duo CD, The Life of a Song, in 2008. Album Number Two appeared in 2010. A Farmhouse Christmas was issued in 2011.  His and Hers became their fourth Sugar Hill collection in 2012.

Joey + Rory charted with the singles “Cheater, Cheater” (2008) and “That’s Important to Me” (2011). They have 10 music videos.

In 2009 and 2010, the team was nominated as Duo of the Year by both the ACM and the CMA. They won the award at the ACMs in 2010. At the 2011 Inspirational Country Music Awards, Joey + Rory also won Duo of the Year.

In addition to making records, they made their mark as broadcasters. The Joey + Rory Show aired on Friday evenings on RFD-TV in 2012-2014. They also co-hosted “The Joey + Rory Radio Show” on WSM 650 AM.

Inspired: Songs of Faith and Family was issued by the Gaither Music imprint in 2013. Made to Last, released the same year, was on their independent Farmhouse label.

Cracker Barrel distributed Joey + Rory’s 2014 CD Country Classics. The team’s current CD, also a Cracker Barrel outing, is Hymns That Are Important to Us.

Joey Martin Feek had daughter Indiana in February 2014. The baby has Down Syndrome. Rory Feek also has two daughters from an earlier relationship.

In June 2014, Joey revealed that she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. She underwent surgery and chemotherapy treatments, but the cancer returned vigorously in June 2015. In October, she elected to cease treatments and spend time with her family in Indiana. She was under the care of her sister, a nurse.

Joey + Rory were nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award, and she vowed to live until the Feb. 15, 2016 ceremony.

Joey Martin Feek is survived by husband Rory Feek, daughter Indiana Boon Feek, stepdaughters Hiedi Caroline and Sarah Hope Feek, parents Jack and June Martin and sisters Julie Snyder and Jessie May.

 

 

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About the Author

Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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