From Wednesday’s Life section of The Oklahoman.
Despite success, country duo Joey + Rory remain true to selves
Even when they’re doing red carpet interviews, posing for album cover photos and playing awards shows, Joey Martin and Rory Feek don’t look much like emerging country stars.
Feek, an accomplished Nashville songwriter still adjusting to his role as a performer, continues to wear his uniform of overalls and work boots, even on those red carpets. For her part, Martin, an old-school country crooner enjoying success that eluded her as a solo artist, prefers jeans, Western shirts and boots.
“Honestly, sometimes awards shows and red carpets and things like that, they’re a little bit stressful. We just try to think of them as a date night for us so we just get dressed up and we show up. … But we still wear overalls and jeans and belt buckles. That’s who we are, and we stand out like a sore thumb,” on the red carpet,” Martin said with a laugh in a phone interview before a show in Fayetteville, N.C.
While the husband-and-wife team known as Joey + Rory still thinks of themselves as “normal people,” more red carpets are in their future. After winning top new vocal duo at spring’s Academy of Country Music Awards, they will compete for vocal duo of the year at the Country Music Association Awards in November. Feek also earned a CMA Award nomination for co-writing Easton Corbin’s hit “A Little More Country Than That.”
Last week, Joey + Rory’s sophomore record, aptly titled “Album Number Two,” debuted in the top 10 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. And the couple is following a recent tour with the white-hot Zac Brown Band with a string of shows with Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams. They will launch their tour opening for Williams Thursday night at Rose State Performing Arts Center.
“Don is such a legend and he’s one of our hugest heroes of all time,” His career that he’s had and the path he’s taken and the song that he sings and what he’s about, we’re just in love with that,” Martin said. “Rory when he was 11 or 12 he went out and bought a Don Williams music book and that’s how he learned guitar.” He learned to play Don Williams’ songs.”
Like the countrypolitan balladeer, Feek started his career in Nashville as a songwriter; since 1995, he has penned chart-toppers like Oklahoman Blake Shelton’s “Some Beach” Clay Walker’s “Chain of Love” and Corbin’s breakout hit. For Martin, hearing Feek perform his work at a songwriters’ showcase first attracted her to her future husband.
For the first five years they were married, Feek continued to write while Martin and her sister-in-law started a restaurant, Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse, near their farm in Pottsville, Tenn. In 2008, a friend suggested the couple audition for CMT’s reality TV show “Can You Duet.” They came in third place, and their debut album, “Life of a Song,” sold nearly 300,000 copies and spawned a Top 30 hit with the feisty “Cheater Cheater.”
The same wily sense of humor is immediately evident on “Album Number Two” with the title track, which takes a lighthearted view of the high-pressure expectations often put on sophomore albums.
“Our whole attempt is to take all of it a little easier — the road, awards show, everything about it — just take it with a grain of salt,” Feek said. “When it comes to recording the album, we tried hard to just be ourselves. … That song is part of it, just laughing at the situation a little bit and not taking it too seriously,” Feek said.
Like their debut record, “Album Number Two” weaves humorous yarns like “You Ain’t Right” and “Baby I’ll Come Back to You” with fervent songs about faith and family such as the lead-off single, “This Song’s for You,” which Feek penned with Zac Brown. The single’s heartfelt video features many of the couple’s Maury County neighbors, including customers and employees of Marcy Jo’s, where Martin still sometimes helps in the kitchen.
“We’re normal people, but we’ve been given the opportunity to live an extraordinary life. And if you don’t share that someone and just keep it to yourself, then what’s the point?” Martin said. “So we’re really honored and thrilled to have the ability to share it with the people that we love and our community.”
An Evening with Don Williams featuring Joey + Rory
When: 7:30 p.m. S30 Thursday.
Rose State Performing Arts Theatre, 6420 SE 15, Midwest City.
Tickets and information: 297-2264 or www.myticketoffice.com.