USA TODAY - Joey Feek will make her solo country debut one year after her death.
Feek, part of country duo Joey+Rory, touched millions of lives when her faith-filled battle with stage 4 cervical cancer went viral on her husband Rory Feek’s blog thislifeilive.com. Joey Feek lost her fight with the disease March 4, 2016. But with the help of her husband, family and Gaither Music Group, the traditional country album she always wanted to make will be released.
If Not For You will be available April 7.
The personal 12-song collection begins with a light-hearted cameo by her parents Jack Martin and June Martin and includes the original version of Joey+Rory’s That's Important to Me and a tribute to her late brother Justin Martin See You There. Physical copies will feature a 48-page insert packed with photos and stories written by Joey and Rory Feek and her family.
The album, originally called Strong Enough To Cry, was produced by Rory Feek and Bill McDermott in 2005 and was available in a limited capacity through his website and at the couple's shows.
“It’s one of the great joys of my life to dust these songs off and bring them to life again,” Rory Feek wrote in the album’s booklet. “Not just the songs, but also the stories and the life of the special woman that these songs represent.”
The Feeks were married in 2002 and country music fans first met them when their duo Joey+Rory placed third on the inaugural season of CMT’s reality talent search Can You Duet in 2008. Their debut single, Cheater, Cheater, climbed to No. 30 on Billboard’s country radio airplay charts, and they were named spokespeople for Overstock.com. The couple released seven albums, including Hymns That Are Important To Us, which topped Billboard's Country Albums sales chart when it was released in 2016 — and won a Grammy in February.
But it was through Joey Feek's illness that she garnered worldwide interest. Now, her family believes, her story and untimely death will lead people to her first love of traditional country music.
“No one knew her when she recorded these songs,” said her mother June Martin. “I’m not sure people would have grasped them then like they will now.
“I think this will further reach people who never even knew that Joey sang without Rory, that she was this inspired singer all along,” added her sister Jody Martin. “Unfortunately, it had to take something like this for her to be recognized even more.”
Gaither Music Group worked with the couple on its last three albums and the company’s vice president Paul Sizelove said to was an honor to help continue Joey Feek’s legacy.
“It amazes me because new people are introduced to her and her story every single day, and it’s amazing to me because even now, she’s still touching thousands of life every single day,” he said. “She’s real. There’s an honesty there about her that is pure. This album is almost the story of her life.”
Feek’s family spoke with The Tennessean two days before the one-year anniversary of her death. Her sisters explained that the last six weeks had been just as hard as the first six weeks after she died because they were remembering each step of their “darkest days.” Jack Martin said it’s “hard to get excited” about the album’s release because his daughter isn’t here to see it.
“It seems odd to share in something she can’t share with us,” he said. “The thing about this album that I hope people listen to is our daughter can sing. Oh my gosh, she is such a talent and I hope people get the opportunity to listen to her and see what she’s all about.”
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