Why Joey Feek Didn't Stop Singing in Cancer Battle: 'It Wasn't Easy, But It Was Important to Her,' Says Husband Rory
Joey Feek was born to sing.
At just 6 years old, the future Grammy nominee made her stage debut at a school talent show, belting out Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.” Over 30 years later, in the fight for her life against cervical cancer, the country and gospel singer – half of duo Joey+Rory with her husband Rory Feek – did not take her gift for granted.
Despite undergoing chemotherapy and radiation at the Cancer Treatment Center in Newnan, Georgia, Joey recorded vocals for Hymns That Are Important to Us, the couple’s new album available on Feb. 12.
“She would sing into a microphone that we had set up in our room,” Rory, 50, tells PEOPLE of working on new music with Joey, 40, last year. “It wasn’t easy, but it was important to her. Those are moments I’ll never forget.”
For much more on Joey Feek’s heartbreaking goodbye – including how she is preparing her family for her death – pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
Cut to today: as Joey succumbs to terminal cancer surrounded by family – including daughter Indiana, 23 months – in her hometown of Alexandria, Indiana, the album is destined to be her last.
“Both Joey and I only hope that these songs and these words can touch people and bring some joy and light to them in their times of need, the way that they have to us,” explains Rory. “Selfishly, I hope the whole world gets to discover what an amazing singer and woman my beautiful wife is, and that her music outlives not only the both of us, but also our children’s children’s children.”
Joey+Rory‘s deluxe version of the effort, available exclusively at Cracker Barrel, includes family photos and emotional notes about the couple’s journey. Featuring Christian classics like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” the album also captures Joey’s enduring faith in God.
“Even now, in her hospital bed – thin and hurting – her eyes light up whenever she talks about her faith,” says Rory. “Some people would be discouraged in Joey’s position and question their faith in God, but not her. She is just as passionate and strong in her beliefs as ever. She would be the first to tell you, He is with us.”