15 Years Ago: ‘Can You Duet’ Premieres on CMT
Fifteen years ago today, on April 14, 2008, Can You Duet premiered on CMT. Contestants on the TV singing competition's two seasons included Steel Magnolia and the Stellas, but the show is perhaps best known for introducing the husband-and-wife team of Joey and Rory Feek, better known as Joey + Rory.
Naomi Judd, songwriter Aimee Mayo and vocal coach to the stars Brett Manning served as judges, with Rossi Morreale hosting the series. During the show's first season, Joey + Rory came in third, behind winners Caitlyn Lynn and William Snyder and second-place duo Nick Brownwell and Jeremiah Richey. But it was Joey + Rory who quickly catapulted into stardom following their appearance on Can You Duet.
Joey + Rory signed a record deal with Vanguard / Sugar Hill after the show, and released their debut single, the Top 30 tune “Cheater, Cheater,” from their freshman album, Life of a Song. Two years later, in 2010, Joey + Rory released Album Number Two, followed by His and Hers in 2012, both on Vanguard / Sugar Hill Records. "When I'm Gone," from His and Hers, landed in the Top 20 on the charts.
Surprisingly, the Feeks, who wed in 2002, had never even considered forming a duo until Rory Feek learned of the opportunity to be on Can You Duet.
“I don’t think it would have occurred to us to sing together,” Rory Feek admits (quote via CMT). “It’s sort of obvious why. She’s beautiful, and she’s so talented in her own right. She has such an amazing voice she doesn’t really need anything else with her ... I may be a really good songwriter, but I wouldn’t add any star appeal.”
It wasn't until after they made it past the first round of auditions in Can You Duet that the Feeks came up with the name Joey + Rory.
“I told Joey that I think we should tell them ‘Joey + Rory,’ because that’s what it actually was … You + Me = whatever this is going to be,” Rory Feek recalls. “Though it might have been a bit confusing to others, the plus sign made sense to us, and that’s all that mattered.”
Can You Duet returned for one more season in 2009, with Steel Magnolia, made up of Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones, winning that year. The duo released one eponymous EP and album, and had one Top 10 single, "Keep on Lovin' You." In 2013, the duo split, with both Linsey and Jones pursuing solo careers.
Following her months-long battle with cancer, which captured the attention of not just country fans but so many others, Joey Feek passed away on March 4, 2016. She was 40 years old.
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.
Watch Joey + Rory's Can You Duet Audition:
5 Major Joey + Rory Career Milestones: