1029) What’s Important to You?


By Jeff Koch in World magazine ( http://www.wng.org ), February 6, 2016 issue, pp. 54-55.

     Many music stars wonder what they’ll wear to the Grammy Awards ceremony on February 15.  Joey Martin Feek of the Grammy-nominated country music duo Joey+Rory wonders whether she’ll be alive.

     The husband-and-wife team in 2012 released “When I’m Gone” (see below), the song of a dying wife who encourages her grieving husband and family.  Then the song came true:  Two years later, soon after the birth of their daughter Indiana, Joey learned she had cervical cancer.  Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy followed, but cancer won and Joey entered hospice care in October, with a forecast of six to nine months to live.

     Joey, 40, said in December that she hoped to survive to see the release of the Joey+Rory hymns album on Feb. 12, the Grammys, and Indiana’s second birthday on February 17.

     Joey and Rory first broke on the scene with their charming 2008 album The Life of a Song, which crackled with humor, sass, and finger-lickin’ good musical chops.  Joey’s silver-threaded voice mingled with Rory’s tangy harmonies to serve up pithy commentary on life and the music business.  Opening track “Play the Song” employed a bluesy country-shuffle to poke fun at music label executives who worry and nitpick, “It’s too fast, it’s too slow / it’s too country, too rock and roll / it’s too happy, too sad, too short, or it’s way too long / Yeah, and it’s too bad they don’t just play the song!”

     The execs needn’t have worried.  Joey and Rory quickly captured the ears of critics and fans alike with witty and winsome songs that combined modern sensibilities with an unabashed love of classic country values like hard work, rugged independence, love of nature, and respect for family and faith.  Joey’s embrace of traditional female roles in “That’s Important to Me” (see below) bordered on downright counter-cultural when she crooned, “Having somebody to share my life / loving my husband and being a wife / and being the very best mother I can be / That’s important to me.”

     December’s surprise Grammy nomination was for the couple’s performance of Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” (see below).  The music video shows the couple readying for the birth of Indiana, who was later diagnosed with Down syndrome.  On his blog, ‘This Life I Live,’ Rory explained: “During the pregnancy, we never did an ultrasound, or saw a doctor, nor would it have made any difference if we had.  We trusted that God would give us the baby He wanted us to have… and He has.  Out of all the parents in the world, He has chosen us to care for and raise this special gift.”

     The couple’s moving story and transparent blogging have attracted media attention from across the country.  In one post, next to pictures of Joey’s emaciated body and loss of hair, Rory reflected, “Though now, she can no longer get out of bed … you would think she’s her normal self.  Thinner.  Much thinner…  But she is beautiful.  When God begins to take the light from the outside … the light inside just shines all that much brighter.”

     Rory called the season’s first snow “manna from heaven,” because it brought comfort during one of Joey’s darkest moments.  “I want to raise our baby,” she had cried.  “I want to be the one to teach her.”  Yet the sight of snow shot a bolt of light into Joey’s heart as she admitted, “I didn’t think I’d get to see snow again.”  She then raised her eyes upward and said, “If this is the last snow I ever see, thank you, Jesus.”

     For now it’s one day at a time.  Christmas was a treasured milestone.  Rory wrote, “The prognosis was clear that there was a good chance Joey wasn’t going to be with us” for the holidays.  But Christmas Day came and a smiling Joey celebrated with the family— what Rory called “the best gift of all.”  He wrote, “We will continue to believe and trust that what is waiting on the other side of the deep, dark wood is something even better and more beautiful than our minds can even imagine.”


THAT’S IMPORTANT TO ME by Timothy Jon Johnson, Rory Feek, and Joey Martin

 See and hear it at:


Not planning our day around a TV set
Paying our bills and staying out of debt
That’s important to me

Opening the windows and letting in air
Holding hands when we’re saying a prayer
That’s important to me
Yeah, that’s important to me

Having somebody to share my life
Loving my husband and being a wife
And the very best mother I can be
That’s important to me

Telling the truth and being real
Feeding my family a home cooked meal
That’s important to me
That’s important to me

Planting a garden and watching it grow
Keeping it country on the radio
That’s important to me
Yeah, that’s important to me

Always having you to hold
Being beside you when we grow old
And they plant us ‘neath that big old tree
That’s important to me

Believing our dreams will take us somewhere
Still being ourselves if we ever get there
That’s important to me


Ecclesiastes 12:13  —  Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

I Thessalonians 4:11-12  —  Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life:  You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

II Corinthians 4:16-18  —   Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.

–Psalm 23:4a

Here are three more songs by Joey + Rory:

This Song’s for You:


If I Needed You:


A video of daughter Indiana:


When I’m Gone: