Last year, Rory Feek promised his late wife and duo partner Joey Feek that he would attend the 2017 Grammy Awards if they got nominated. And on Sunday, Joey + Rory nabbed their first golden gramophone trophy for best roots gospel album.
During the non-televised Grammys pre-show, Rory, who found solace in documenting his wife’s last chapter with fans, held back tears as he dedicated the award to Joey, who died in March after a brave fight with terminal cancer.
“She sang her vocals in hotel rooms while she did chemo and radiation and it finally came out a year ago, almost exactly,” the father of three shared. “And we sat together in the final days and watched this award ceremony last year — and she said, ‘If we get nominated, promise me you will come.’ And I said ‘I will.’ ”
Before Joey’s death, the couple, who married in June 2002, recorded and released their final album, Hymns That Are Important to Us – which landed at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country and Contemporary Christian charts and No. 4 on the Top 200 chart, marking their biggest debut ever.
To watch the full PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly Grammy Red Carpet special, tune in to the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.
“My wife always wanted to make an album full of the hymns that she grew up with. By the time that she got to make it she was already diagnosed with stage 4 cancer,” Rory told Entertainment Tonight at Sunday’s red carpet.
RELATED VIDEO: What Music’s Biggest Stars Wore to Their First Grammy Awards
“By the time the album came out, it was last year, we watched the Grammy Awards together in the last couple of weeks of her battle. When it was over she said, ‘If we get nominated for a Grammy, you have to promise me that you’ll go. And I said I would. And she started smiling and she said, ‘And don’t forget, I’m going to know the answer before you will.’ ”
The duo were nominated for best country duo/group performance for “If I Needed You” last year.
For Joey + Rory, being nominated felt like “winning the lottery,” Rory told PEOPLE in late 2015. “The only thing that could be better than that is to actually win the award. That would be beyond our wildest dreams.”
Rory’s memoir, This Life I Live, is due out on Valentine’s Day from HarperCollins imprint Thomas Nelson.