Joey and Rory Feek never treated Hymns like their final project together.
In his first interview since his wife's death at age 40 on March 4, Rory tells Billboard why it was so important for the couple -- who performed as Joey + Rory -- to keep making music during Joey's cancer battle.
"We had unwavering hope," Rory explains. "I knew it was hard for her, but we always treated everything like, 'This is a season, and we're going to get better.' She kept wanting to sing, even when it was hard for her to get onstage. Not because she wanted to make money or get applause, but because she wanted to share her music."
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Now, the 51-year-old songwriter says their final album brings him solace.
"I'd say it brings me a lot of peace. I listen and watch everything -- it's part of the process for me," he shares. "I don't want to hide from her, or her memory, or those feelings. I want to embrace them and keep her as close to me as possible."
"Hearing the music, she's still alive," Rory adds.
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And despite Joey's tragic death, Rory's deep connection to faith has not changed.
"I don't understand everything. I don't understand all of the Bible, nor did my wife -- but I understand what faith is, and what faith requires," he says. "Faith requires faith, and that never really stops. She had a very strong faith, and that never wavered. The same thing with me: Just because things don't work out the way that you hoped they would, doesn't mean that God isn't still in charge. It's still his plans and not ours, so I don't feel like my faith has wavered at all."
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