With the recent launch of "The Joey + Rory Show" on cable/satellite TV channel RFD-TV, the country couple of the same name has found a highly productive way to mix business and pleasure.
Filmed on its farm in Pottsville, Tenn., the series looks at the rural lifestyle as well as performances of bluegrass and country music. Plus, there's plenty of promotion for the duo's new album, "His and Hers," due July 31 on Vanguard/Sugar Hill Records. "The show is a great vehicle to reach their audience," Sugar Hill GM/senior VP Cliff O'Sullivan says. "We have spots for the album running on each of the first season's episodes."
Married for a decade, wife Joey Martin and husband Rory Lee Feek first attracted attention from country audiences in 2008 on CMT's "Can You Duet" series, placing third in the competition. That same year, the duo released its debut album, The Life of a Song, and scored a top 40 single with "Cheater, Cheater."
The variety series, which airs Friday nights, has already filmed 13 episodes spotlighting music as well as life on the farm, including cooking segments with recipes from the family-owned cafe Marcy Jo's Mealhouse just outside of Nashville. "We converted our barn into a fully working soundstage," Rory says about the show, which the couple self-produces. "It's been neat."
The pair still expects to attract traditional radio airplay but, until then, the TV show has provided a perfect vehicle to promote His and Hers, which was produced by Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton studio associate Gary Paczosa. On the duo's first two records, Joey did nearly all of the singing, but now the couple evenly splits vocal duties on the new album. The opening cut, "Josephine," was inspired by letters penned by a Civil War soldier. "It's probably my favorite song I've ever written," says Rory, who has previously composed album tracks for such artists as Kenny Chesney and Randy Travis, as well as co-writing Easton Corbin's No. 1 hit, "A Little More Country Than That."
"When we bought our farmhouse in 1999, I joined the historic society in our community, and one of the things I got to read were letters J.W. Robinson had written to his wife, Josephine," Rory says. "The thing that struck me was the way he [wrote] to her. It was so beautiful. The song just unfolded. A lot of it comes straight out of the letters."
The album's first single, "When I'm Gone," was penned by Joey's friend, Sandy Lawrence. "She wrote it about her mother," Joey says. "As she was watching her mother pass, she needed to hear those words, she needed affirmation that everything was going to be OK. She wanted to write this for her husband and son, to let them know 'if anything ever happens, everything will be OK when I'm gone.'"
"We're already in rotation on [the GAC cable channel] with the video, which is No. 12 on their 'Top 20 Countdown,'" O'Sullivan says. "CMT has always been a great partner for Joey + Rory, too, and of course we're at radio with the track. We're also reaching out to fans, new and old, through Facebook and both the Joey + Rory and Sugar Hill websites." There are other promotional efforts as well, including a label pre-sale campaign for the new album that features the CD bundled with a poster of the duo.
"As a traditional duo on an independent label, it's been difficult for us to get any considerable airplay," Rory admits. "What a difference television has made. On TV, audiences look into your eyes and decide whether or not they like you. They don't fall in love with a song-they fall in love with people that they're getting to know."