Gospel music legend and fellow Alexandria, Ind., native Bill Gaither, who has been a friend and a mentor of Joey+Rory Feek for years, is hosting a public service memorial in Joey's hometown on Sunday, March 13, at 2:30 p.m. in the Alexandria-Monroe High School gymnasium.
The memorial service will not be live-streamed on any television network or website, however the local news media will be there, and will cover portions of the service afterward.
Gaither, joined by his wife, Gloria, will host the service, along with Rev. Jerry Young and Mike Owens. Rory Feek, his daughters and members of the Martin family will be in attendance, and are exceedingly grateful for this community's outpouring of support throughout Joey's life and most recently during her illness, Gaither's announcement stated.
"Joey was one of a kind. We all will miss that sweet, transparent spirit," Gaither said this week.
Gaither operates his business out of the same town in which Joey returned for hospice, and he dropped by almost daily to see her.
"We'll get a knock on the door in the morning or early afternoon, and next thing you know Bill will be parked in a chair beside Joey's bed, telling her jokes and stories about days long-past and he'll have Joey and all of us laughing and smiling 'til our faces hurt," Rory Feek wrote in his personal blog.
One time, Gaither surprised the Feeks by building a bonfire across a pond outside Joey's window.
"It was magical," Rory Feek said, then explained that Gaither called to make sure Joey could see it, wanting to know if she was smiling.
"I looked over at Joey watching the flames, beaming ear-to-ear, and found myself doing the same thing," Rory Feek wrote. "We all are Bill."
In addition to being friends, the Feeks worked with Gaither professionally. In fact, Gaither released the couple's new "Hymns That Important to Us" album in February. As reported in The Gospel Herald
Feb. 24, the inspirational "Hymns" album capped Billboard's Top Country Albums chart (dated March 5), after selling 68,000 copies in the sales week ending Feb. 18, according to Nielsen Music. The album, which was released on Feb. 12 through Cracker Barrel, also topped Billboard's Contemporary Christian Album and Christian Video charts.
The Feeks first began to get public recognition when the duo was the third-place finalist on CMT's competition "Can You Duet" in 2008. They had been residing on a farm in Pottsville, Tenn., to which Rory and their 2-year-old daughter Indiana returned after Joey's death.
Bill founded his first group, The Bill Gaither Trio, in 1956, while he was a college student.
The collaborations of Bill and Gloria resulted in more than 700 popular gospel songs, including the hymnal standard "Because He Lives," "The King Is Coming," "Something Beautiful," "He Touched Me," "It Is Finished," "There's Something About That Name," "Let's Just Praise The Lord," and "Loving God, Loving Each Other." Bill and Gloria collectively won eight Grammy Awards and more than a dozen nominations, and they have received more than two dozen Dove Awards from The Gospel Music Association, earning the title of Gospel Music Association's "Songwriter of the Year" eight times.