“Whatever you do, don’t change.” That advice, offered by Naomi Judd to country duo Joey + Rory during their stint on CMT’s Can You Duet competition, is a sentiment shared by a growing legion of fans of the husband-wife team.
Amazingly, the Nashville-based couple had never considered a career as a duo prior to their appearance on the CMT reality show. For the past decade-plus, Rory Feek had made his living as a staff songwriter, penning such compositions as the 2004 Blake Shelton hit, “Some Beach.” Joey Martin, on the other hand, was working as a waitress in a restaurant jointly owned with Feek’s sister – all the while “dreaming, singing songs on the side, and hoping it would turn into something.”
“There wasn’t an ounce of us that thought you could take a 40-year-old songwriting husband who wears overalls, add him with a beautiful singer, and all of a sudden you have a more powerful commodity,” says Rory. “That was too good a story for us to imagine.”
Putting to rest those original doubts, the duo’s debut album, The Life of a Song, captures the couple’s chemistry in all its uplifting glory. Rife with country-pop gems, the disc sounds at once traditional and contemporary, with Rory’s hook-filled compositions serving as the perfect backdrop for Joey’s old-school country charm. The juxtaposition seems to be working: The pair recently earned a nomination for CMA Vocal Duo of the Year.
“My Mom is probably my biggest influence as a singer, along with Connie Smith, the Judds, Emmylou Harris, and Patty Loveless,” says Joey, when asked about artists who impacted her. “I love country music – how it tells stories and how it’s about real people.”
Married since 2002, the couple shares a farmhouse that served as the setting for the music video made for their first single, “Cheater Cheater.” Neither Joey nor Rory have misgivings about opening up their personal lives to the public at large, so long as the portrayal remains authentic.
“We’ve already opened up our lives in a public way, and we’re comfortable continuing to do that,” says Rory. “We want to be an open book as much as we can, and still remain solid.”