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Joey + Rory: Their 10 Best Performances

From their Grammy-nominated Townes Van Zandt cover to their heartbreaking ballad about dealing with grief

Joey and Rory

Joey + Rory released a mix of traditional country music, gospel and holiday songs throughout their career.

Mindy Small/FilmMagic

From long before their 2008 debut as a duo, competing on CMT's Can You Duet, to the last songs they would record together in Joey Martin Feek's all-too-brief lifetime, Joey + Rory knew how to make radio listeners, TV viewers and crowds smile, laugh and sing along to their instantly likeable songs.

Their recorded output includes just a handful of LPs (including the Number One album Hymns That Are Important to Us, released last month) and incorporates original songs, Christmas music and gospel standards, but even if the number is few, everything the couple recorded together was performed with a genuine respect for their audience, a reverence for God and an unfaltering love for each other.

If the gift of more time was, ultimately, impossible to hope for — Joey Martin Feek died from cancer today at age 40 — the gift of love will have to do. These 10 unforgettable performances are among the greatest gifts Joey + Rory left for their fans, and fans of country music in general.  

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“When I’m Gone”

Two years before she was diagnosed with cancer, Joey sang this on the couple's 2012 LP, His & Hers. A heartbreakingly beautiful ballad about grief and its effect on the one left behind after death, the tune is so eerily prophetic and profoundly moving that it's nearly impossible to listen to. Still, the point of the song, which was penned by Sandy Emory Lawrence, is to remind those who grieve that, as the lyrics state, "in spite of all the funeral songs, the birds will make their joyful sounds."

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“If I Needed You”

A 2015 Grammy nominee for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, this ballad from the couple's Country Classics is presented in a video combining performance footage from the Grand Ole Opry-inspired stage of their Joey + Rory TV series with clips surrounding the June 2014 home birth of daughter Indiana Boone. The iconic and oft-recorded tune, written by Townes Van Zandt, has never sounded so immediate, intimate and full of promise.

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“Cheater, Cheater”

A much-needed reminder that Joey + Rory could be counted on to throw down when it came to their live shows, this rip-roarin' version of Joey's revenge fantasy features the Zac Brown Band and incorporates a cheeky bonus verse in which she boldly removes any doubt about what will happen to the woman who dares come between her and her man. Everything about the song, their debut single in 2008, is perfect — except for the puzzling lack of even greater commercial success for both it and the duo.

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“Young Love”

From their time as contestants on CMT's Can You Duet, this lovely take on the Judds' 1989 hit illustrates the couple's love story. No coaches or mentors could possibly prepare them for how courageously they would face the unthinkable. Instead of growing old together, they will forever be the sweet, wide-eyed young lovers seen here, with a tale far more timeless than any song, album or TV appearance could ever represent.

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“God Help My Man”

One of the most endearing qualities in Joey and Rory as artists is that they never took themselves too seriously, as evidenced in this humorous tune Rory Feek penned with Jamie Teachenor and Paul Overstreet. Taken from the couple's Album Number Two, the title line "God Help My Man" is followed by the kicker, "if he's foolin' around." It's a slice of sarcastic honky-tonk with a strong helping of girl power, performed by Joey with fierce gusto.

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“Coat of Many Colors”

A natural for Joey's Dolly Parton-like voice, this is a performance etched in fragility but strengthened by personal resolve. Taking the familiar story-song about earthly rags and heavenly riches, Joey makes it her own. The acoustic instrumentation, paired with tender harmony vocals from Rory and his daughter Heidi, make the song, which has already been embraced universally, something even more profound.

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“Dreamer”

A lively full-band performance from their homespun Joey + Rory Show on RFD-TV, this acoustic performance of an upbeat bluegrass tune proves that no matter who accompanies her, Joey's voice rings through as the most honest, authentic instrument in the mix. They may never have had any big-city aspirations, as the song suggests, but the couple made their home a place where anyone was welcome.

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“Remember Me”

Taken from the couple's A Farmhouse Christmas album, this 2011 performance from the Music City Roots radio/TV series is a sweet, gentle reminder of what the season is all about. It is also another example of how perfectly the couple lived their faith and shared their deeply held beliefs without ever compromising their artistic integrity or alienating those might not share their worldview.

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“That’s Important to Me”

Shot in and around the Feeks' Tennessee farmhouse and nearby Marcy Jo's Mealhouse restaurant, this lighthearted clip spotlights family, friends and the simple things that go into making each and every day the most special. It's also a beautiful reminder of just how lovely Joey and Rory sounded together and how much country radio, and country music in general, missed out by not embracing and championing their music.

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“Softly and Tenderly”

In spite of how much the treatment for her cancer consumed much of Joey's time and depleted her physical energy, the video for this gospel standard showcases two of the essential elements which kept her going when everything around her was so challenging: music and motherhood. Whether blowing bubbles for young daughter Indiana's amusement or laying down vocal tracks for a project that will live on long after she's gone, Joey put her warm heart and gentle soul into everything she did.

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