Titled If Not For You, the collection of music features songs Joey recorded in 2005, most of which have never been released. According to Rory, it’s the perfect tribute to the country-music songstress, who passed away at the age of 40.
On Tuesday, Rory wrote on his blog (This Life I Live), explaining the process of the album recording and what it felt like to be in the studio with his “beautiful” wife. He also addressed why he’s releasing the music now.
“The record in its original form (using her maiden name, and titled Strong Enough To Cry) has sat quietly on a shelf for the last 10 years, waiting for the right time to come along … when maybe, somehow, someone would care. A time like now,” wrote Rory, 51, on his blog.
Initially, Joey contemplated a solo career — with the songs featured on If Not For You — but unfortunately her music didn’t resonate on mainstream country music radio.
“And so, though we tried our best to make the album successful (I even took Joey on two radio tours around the country to try to get radio stations to play it), it wasn’t meant to be,” he explained. “Joey was beyond brokenhearted. And I was brokenhearted for her.”
The pair found solace in each other and quickly came to be known as Joey + Rory, the country-music duo. Together, their music was well-received and an outlet for both of them.
Rory wrote the liner notes for If Not For You; fans might want to have some tissues handy before reading them in full.
“If not for you, Joey … my heart and my world would be empty. My girls wouldn’t have the mother they’ve had, and the joy that is our little Indiana wouldn’t exist. I would’ve never stood on a stage and sang the songs, or been part of the beautiful story that God has given us… thank you. I love you, I love you, I love you.”
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“It is one of the great joys of my life to dust these songs off and bring life to them again. Not just the songs, but also the stories and the life of the special woman that these songs represent,” he wrote. “I almost can’t remember life before Joey, and can’t imagine having lived a life without her in it. Even now, though she’s no longer with us, she is very much still here. Her presence is that strong, and her impact on my life and this world is that special.”
The Feeks met at a songwriting event in 2002, and the couple had their first date on Valentine’s Day that year. Two months later, they were engaged. Their path to stardom began in 2008 after they competed on CMT’s music competition show Can You Duet.
Joey + Rory were nominated for a Grammy in 2016 for Best Country Group/Duo performance (which they lost to Little Big Town), and Rory refused to leave Joey’s side for the ceremony. The couple watched the Grammys from the hospice where Joey was being cared for.
The pair’s most recent album, Hymns, topped both the Billboard country music and Christian music charts for the first time in late February. It was the first time the duo found themselves sitting atop both lists.
You can buy Joey Feek’s album here.