Joey and Rory Feek, the white-hot husband and wife country music duo, are working hard to adjust to their crazy new life. Since placing third on “Can You Duet” on CMT in 2008, the couple’s world has been turned upside down – in a good way.
Their debut single, “Cheater, Cheater” was their first top 30 hit, landing in the top 10 of the dance club charts. The song peaked at number three on iTunes, with over 400,000 downloads. Their first album, “For the Sake of the Song,” stayed on the country music charts for 50 weeks.
They’ve been nominated as Vocal Duo of the Year, Top New Vocal Duo and Top New Artist by the Country Music Association. “A Little More Country Than That,” a song Rory penned, was recorded by Easton Corbin and has been nominated as Song of the Year by the CMA. Overstock.com signed them to be spokespersons.
They spent a good deal of the year touring with the Zac Brown Band.
“This Song’s For You,” their first single from “Album Number 2” (Sugar Hill Records. $17.98) and a tribute to the world of the working class, was co-written with Zac Brown.
They’re currently touring with county music legend Don Williams. They’ll open for Williams at the Perot Theater in Texarkana on Tuesday, Oct. 26.
“We’re having a really special time, no doubt,” said Joey during a phone interview as the couple was headed from Salina, Kan., to Houston for a gig at The House of Blues. “I grew up listening to Don and so did Rory. There is such a truth and honesty and value system that he has in songs and his music. It’s very similar to what we’re trying to do and what we write about.”
According to Rory, the songwriter of the twosome, he and Joey have a lot in common with the people who come to their shows.
“I might be wrong, but we are just like our audiences,” he said. “We’re starving for some authenticity, for some simple country music that says something. Our songs aren’t slickly produced. They come from the heart.”
Joey’s favorite cut on the new CD is “It’s Important To Me,” and if audience reaction is a yardstick, the fans like it, too.
“It’s become a cornerstone for us,” said Rory, who favors a wardrobe of overalls rather than Wrangler jeans. “Last night, we played in Salina and Joey sang the first two or three lines of the song and they broke out in applause. That’s how we feel about it, too.”
The lyrics endorse simple old-fashioned values and statements.
“I don’t know if it’s because of the way the world is today,” Rory said. “It seems like they’re really important things, especially to have a beautiful woman like Joey saying stuff about really wanting to be a good wife and a good mother.”
The couple, who were married in 2002, live their lyrics. They own and operate a farm in Pottsville, Tenn., about 45 miles south of Nashville. Rory, who was raised in Kansas, works the farm, harvesting roosters. Joey stays busy with a large garden and working with her sister-in-law at their restaurant, Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse.
“Our new video of ‘This Song’s For You’ was shot in and around the restaurant,” Joey said. “They’re all our neighbors, people we go to church with, our customers at the restaurant, friends and family. It’s just amazing how a community will gather around and help one another out. It’s great to see it still exists.”
In the rare time they’re not on the road, home is an 1870s farm house with a brand new tin roof, courtesy of the royalties from Rory’s song, “A Little More Country Than That.”
“It was my birthday and Rory asked what I wanted,” Joey explained.
The conversation that followed went something like this:
Honey, I’ve been waiting for a tin roof for eight years.
Well, by golly, you’re going to get one.
Rory, who is normally content to have “the best view of each performance,” standing onstage behind his woman, steps up to the microphone on the new CD for an emotional tribute to his late father. Doing the song live can be problematic.
“I can be singing it just like it’s any other song, and then all of a sudden, in the middle, it will hit me and hurt so bad,” he said. “But that’s the neat part about songs is that the characters come alive like in this one.”
One of the couple’s most personal songs on the new CD is “Born To Be Your Woman,” written late one evening.
“I remember specifically when Rory started the song,” said Joey. “It was 10 or 11 at night. He had his guitar and started strumming and said, ‘Joey sing this.’ Sometimes things just hit you.”
The song was made more special because Rory’s daughter was spending the night.
“She’s a songwriter as well,” Joey explained. “She jumped out of bed and said, ‘Wait! Wait! Don’t finish. I want to come in on this one.’”
According to Joey, the song tells the story of the couple’s love. The lyrics “We are bound by God forever” are significant.
“That is what’s inscribed in our wedding bands,” said Joey, who grew up in Indiana and worked in equine veterinarian medicine before she took a chance with country music. “That was the last line of our wedding vows. We are bound by God forever. It’s a special, special song, especially with our daughter helping us write it.”
Writing and recording songs that mean something is at the heart of Joey and Rory’s career goals.
“We try to sing songs that move us,” Rory said. “Whether it makes us laugh or hurt or smile or think deeper, that’s really what we’re about. We don’t just want to stand there and strum a guitar and burn up the charts. We really want to say something. If it doesn’t speak to us and affect us, then how could we ever expect it to affect someone else?”
Although the couple have no difficulty harmonizing on stage, Joey says life with Rory required some adjustment.
“I’m such a planner,” she said. “I like to know what’s happening, and yet I married somebody who is a fly by the seat of your pants all the time guy. It’s a concept that’s unfamiliar to me.”
Rory has an answer for his wife’s Type-A anxiety.
“You just show up,” he said. “Nothing can happen if you don’t show up. Show up, do what you do and hope that magic will happen.”
Showing up and making magic is a plan that works for Joey and Rory Feek.
“We showed up on ‘Can You Duet’ and that path has led us to downtown Houston tonight,” Joey said as their bus pulled into the House of Blues parking lot. “Hopefully, the magic will be there.”
Here's a link to Joey and Rory with the Zac Brown Band doing "This Song's For You" live in Bakersfield, Calif.
For more information on Joey + Rory, log onto: www.joeyandrory.com
For more information on their show at the Perot Theater, log onto: www.trahc.org/perot-theatre
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