Dolly Parton has lent her voice to a new duet with Rory Feek, joining him on "One Angel," a tribute to Feek's late wife and musical partner, Joey Feek. Rory originally released the song solo in March 2021, but a new version shared this week features additional vocals from Parton, who provided harmonies and sang a verse.
The emotional song was written by Rory and Joey's good friend Sandy Emory Lawrence, who penned the lyrics about the chemotherapy and radiation Joey underwent before she died in March 2016. "So here's three fingers of tequila / One finger for the cancer / One finger for the poison they sent pouring through your veins," the chorus reads. "One finger for the preacher / 'Cause I don't believe the Jesus / That you love so much would put you through such pain / But I do believe one angel knows my name."
In a post on his blog, Feek called Parton joining him on the song "unimaginable." Rory wrote that his friend Ben Isaacs sent the song to Parton, who replied "that she doesn't just want to sing harmony... She wants to sing a verse; the email back says. "...and maybe add a few things, if that's okay." "And she did. The voice of an angel, sang for an angel," Rory wrote. "Something neither Joey, nor I could've ever, ever imagined actually happening."
"To know what a big deal that is, you have to know Dolly's tie into my wife Joey... She was her hero," he added, sharing that Joey's first performance at Cunningham Elementary School in her home state of Indiana was Parton's Coat of Many Colors. "She wanted to be Dolly... To be LIKE Dolly," Rory wrote. "And so after high school, Joey packed her things in a horse-trailer and moved to Nashville to make her mark in country music the way Dolly did."
Parton and Joey never met, but a few weeks before Joey died, Parton sent her a video "telling Joey what a big fan she was of hers and encouraging her in her struggle." "I remember that night very well," Rory recalled. "We were all gathered around a tv at Joey's mama's farmhouse, about to watch a movie together. But instead, I put something else on. And we all watched as Joey saw her hero, tell her she loved and admired her. Her tears, and ours, fell for days."
"One Angel" will appear on Rory's upcoming album Gentle Man, his first solo album and the first album he has recorded without Joey. The project will be released on June 18.