If you’re a fan of singer-songwriter Rory Feek, 2018 has brought plenty of new releases – two books under his name this year have been released, as well as a new CD and DVD that features many favorites that he recorded with his late wife Joey as the duo Joey+Rory. Feek tells Billboard that it wasn’t his intention to have so many items to promote this fall – it just turned out that way.
“None of that was on purpose. These are projects that we’ve been working on for a long time. They’ve just sort of come to be one by one. It’s all been really wonderful and I’m just blessed that the opportunity came around and really proud of everything that we made.”
The first release under his name this year was his second memoir, Once Upon A Farm, which contains many stories of his and Joey’s marriage, but also their three children, Hopie, Heidi, and Indiana. He hopes that the readers enjoy the peek into his family’s personal lives as much as he did writing about them. Did Hopie and Heidi – his oldest two daughters – have any reservations about him sharing so much of their story? He says that wasn’t an issue – they’ve always been a part of the story.
“They were always part of it. Once we started writing the blog (www.ThisLifeILive.com), it was in my early part of 2014, it was really just about life. It wasn’t just about Joey and I, it was about my sisters who lived nearby and people in our community and then the baby and hopes and dreams and fears and struggles. It was also really wonderful because at the end of the day for the kids and for me, these things become memories set in stone that we all get to remember. Hopefully, they’re encouraging to other people too.”
2018 also sees the release of Feek’s first children’s book, The Cow Said Neigh: A Farm Story. He says the book is very much inspired by Indiana, his four-year old daughter with Joey.
“For the last few years, I’ve been reading children’s books to her when she lays down every night and usually when she wakes up in the morning. She loves them and I love them. They become a part of your life and since I’m a creative person, I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book or many of them if I got a chance and it finally came around,”
He says the book borrows from their home life. “Of course, we live on a farm so it made sense to tell a little farm story and it was a lot of fun. That made me smile and made her smile.” Did the book meet with his youngest daughter’s seal of approval?
“She loves it and she’s on the back cover. There’s a little Illustrated picture of her and then I have another children’s book that I’ve already written that hopefully will come out next year and it’s much more about her, about Indiana. It’s still a farm story, but it’s more about her.”
Raising his daughter is something that Feek devotes his heart and soul to, and you can feel his pride when he talks about her.
“She’s just an amazing little girl, and has been such a gift to me and for our family. She’s very high functioning. We just built a one-room school house at the farm, and over this past year and it opened in September. It’s her and there’s twelve kids in the school. It looks just like a one-room school house from the 1800s, except it’s brand new and it’s bigger than normal. There’s three teachers there and it’s across the driveway on the other side of the parking lot on the concert hall (at his house, just south of Nashville). That’s a pretty special thing. I get to walk her to school every day and it’s only a forty-five second walk. It’s an amazing place.”
Fans of the music that he made with his wife will be interested in the new CD/DVD set The Singer and The Song, which includes many of the couple’s favorite songs.
“That has really been such a special opportunity to not just tell our story, but also have our songs tell a story. Songs are such a big part of our story, our love story, our life, our farm. To weave some of our story together using twenty songs was really special. To do it with Bill Gaither was pretty neat. To see that all come together and also share not just in the video and TV special stuff – it’s a mixture of all the different stuff we’ve done. It’s live performances and home movies, music videos, all sorts of things. It’s something I’m really proud of.”
Feek is also proud of their relationship with Gospel music icon Gaither. “He’s been a great friend and a great mentor. He and his wife Gloria were really the first main couple that we got to be around. To see a love story in the music industry in front of people was so great, but they are not just the love story, they created a lifestyle. They’re still enjoying somehow, still living in the same place, they have a little family cafe just to a few blocks from their house in Indiana. They do all of their business there. They record and film and edit and do all that sort of stuff. That’s probably a big part of why we do all the same thing. We have a restaurant and try to create everything right there at home. I think it’s partly because they just inspired us so much.”