Christian music artist Rory Feek has shared why, nearly a year after the death of his wife and music partner, Joey Feek, this year's award shows are "especially special".
Joey + Rory released their final album, Hymns That Are Important to Us, in February, just a few weeks before Joey passed away after a lengthy battle with cervical cancer. Their final album topped both the Billboard Top Country Albums and Top Christian Albums charts in its first week.
The husband-and-wife duo were among the biggest winners at the 2016 Inspirational Country Music Awards, held in Hendersonville, Tenn., on Thursday night, and are up for the coveted Vocal Duo of the Year award at the Country Music Awards held tomorrow night.
"We've been nominated a few other times, but it's been a couple of years. This year is especially special, because it just means more," Rory, 51, said during a recent interview with the Country Music Association. "To have my wife still being part of this, and have her name lifted up, and her music - it's just really sweet, especially now."
The singer, who documented Joey's struggles extensively in his This Life I Live blog, added that he has been blown away by the support his family has received both during his wife's illness and after her death.
"To have so many people follow along and pray for us and pray for her and care for her...it's been special," he said. "I'm not sure I understand how many lives she's impacted, but I know she's impacted mine and yours."
Rory also shared how his 2 ½ year old daughter, Indiana, who was born with Down syndrome in February 2014, has been a tremendous source of comfort following Joey's death: "She's doing really well ... she's still not walking, but she's getting closer and you can hold her hand and she'll take steps," he said. "It's the greatest thing, it really is...Indiana makes you feel so much joy, you're so overwhelmed by how blessed you are instead of concentrating on the parts that hurt."
On Valentine's Day, Rory will release his first book, also titled "This Life I Live," which details his inspiring love story.
"It's my story about my life that led to me to Joey and ultimately to God and how just amazing my journey has been, especially the part with her, and now, with little India," Rory shared. "It's incredible."
Joey's documentary film, To Joey, With Love, about the final years of his wife's life, will premiered earlier this year. Feek also wrote and directed the Civil War-themed film, Josephine, which was screened at the Nashville Film Festival earlier this year.