The couple married in 2002 and rose to fame after appearing on “Can You Duet” in 2008. They released a string of traditional country albums that drew strongly on their Christian faith, and Rory tells Billboard he’s still relying on that faith to get him through the difficult times now that she’s gone.
“I don’t understand everything. I don’t understand all of the Bible, nor did my wife — but I understand what faith is, and what faith requires,” he says. “Faith requires faith, and that never really stops. She had a very strong faith, and that never wavered. The same thing with me: Just because things don’t work out the way that you hoped they would, doesn’t mean that God isn’t still in charge. It’s still his plans and not ours, so I don’t feel like my faith has wavered at all.”
The couple released their final album together, “Hymns That Are Important to Us,” in February via Gaither Music Group, and Joey lived to see it become the biggest hit of their career by far. Rory — who is now a single father raising the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Indiana, who was born with Down syndrome — says he still takes comfort in the music.
“I’d say it brings me a lot of peace,” he relates. “I listen and watch everything — it’s part of the process for me. I don’t want to hide from her, or her memory, or those feelings. I want to embrace them and keep her as close to me as possible. Every morning about 5:30, Indiana and I get up, and quite often I play her the Hymns record. Sometimes we’ll listen and it’ll make us smile. Indiana will do sign language to ‘Jesus Loves Me,’ just like she would with her mother. And then there are other times … I’m making eggs, and emotional, and Indy doesn’t quite understand it. But that’s part of it — it’s OK. I listen to it a lot, actually. I watch through our videos a lot. Being able to watch the videos, she’s still alive. Hearing the music, she’s still alive.”
Feek enjoyed a successful songwriting career before meeting Joey, but he admits he hasn’t written anything new in two years, though he recently released his first movie, “Josephine,” which he co-wrote and directed. He is currently producing a record for an artist named Bradley Walker.
“Joey actually requested that he perform at her graveside service; he sang [the Joey & Rory song] ‘Leave It There,'” he shares. “The Gaithers heard him sing and gave him the opportunity to record this album. It’s pretty magical that [the deal] came from him singing at my wife’s service, that I get to be a part of that — to lift up someone we love.”
What’s next for Rory and Indy?