Rory Feek Opens Up About New Documentary and Life Without Joey

Two and a half years after his wife passed away, Rory Feek still feels her presence.

Posted in , Jan 7, 2019

Rory with his daughter Indiana

Rory Feek is a singer, songwriter, author and doting father. He is perhaps most well known for being half of the singing duo Joey+Rory with his wife Joey Feek.

In 2016, Joey passed away following a long battle with cervical cancer. Rory’s heartfelt blogs chronicling their experience in her final days touched millions.

Since her death, Rory has focused on raising their daughter, Indiana, and has written several books.

Rory recently released a documentary called The Singer And The Song: The Best of Joey+Rory. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at iconic Joey + Rory performances and an intimate interview between Rory and Bill Gaither.

We caught up with Rory to talk about the documentary, how he still feels Joey’s presence and what he’s most excited about now. In the documentary, you said “A man’s character is revealed by the decisions and the actions they take when hard times come their way.” How have the hard times you’ve gone through defined and changed your character?    

Rory Feek: I first heard that statement in the fall of 2015 from the great storytelling master Robert McKee, and he may have heard it from others.  But it rang true to me then, and even more so today. I am who I am because of what we’ve been through. Just like Joey’s truest character was probably most revealed in her bravery in those final months and weeks… my character I think is revealed each and every day…Like everyone, I have my good days and some tougher ones, but I know now that it is how we handle the conflicts that mean the most, that truly expose who we are, who we really are. How did you choose the songs included on “The Singer and the Song”? How were these tunes especially significant in your relationship with Joey and your career? 

RF: There were so many songs to choose from, it was difficult to cull one story told-in-song down to just twenty tunes.  In the end, I had to try to pick the ones that could not only best weave the story of our life and love into one CD, but also brought out the best in us when we wrote, recorded or sang them.  Each one tells a part of our lives. You mention in the documentary that Joey is still here, but it’s a little different. Can you expand on that? How do you experience Joey’s presence?   

RF: I mostly just feel her. Feel her in the house and in our lives. At bath time with the baby, and when we make dinner or sit down and read a book together. It’s not a physical presence, it’s more of a comfort. Something familiar and close that lets me know that I’m not alone.  That she’s still with us, even when she’s gone. How do you see Joey’s legacy living on in your music, your family and your community?

RF: I think it’s just so deeply engrained in all of those things, that it will always be here with us.  Every show we play in the concert hall, and every piece of the land we live and walk on, she’s part of.  We all talk about her like she’s still here. [We reminisce] and constantly [say], “oh, wouldn’t Joey love this…?”  And it’s not just me.  It’s all of our family and community. It’s incredibly hard to believe that it’s been two and a half years already since she passed away.  In some ways it feels like just yesterday we were laying beside Indiana on the bed, glowing with love and joy over the gift that God had given us.  And I guess in other ways, it feels like forever.  Because time has passed and things do change. Indiana is nearly five years old now.  That’s probably the hardest part for me.  Joey not being able to be here to watch Indy grow.  To pour into her and sing her songs and watch her play and laugh and dance and talk.  It’s so special to see and she would’ve loved it so much. You said that you mostly walk around pinching yourself because, despite the hardships, your life is amazing. What are you pinching yourself about now? What are you most looking forward to or excited about?  

RF: Most of the pinching I’ve been doing these days [is] because the of the one-room schoolhouse that just opened here at the farm.  It started as idea, then a dream, and somehow has turned into a reality. But what’s it’s become already is more that I could’ve ever imagined.  It’s so beautiful to see what’s going on there every morning when I walk Indy across the driveway to school, and pick her up in the afternoons.  The teachers, the other kids, the parents… everything is so special and there’s so much life and love that is going on there.  I’m in awe just to be a small part of it. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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