Joey + Rory's Hymns bows atop Billboard's Top Country Albums chart (dated March 5). The inspirational country album sold 68,000 copies in the sales week ending Feb. 18, according to Nielsen Music. On the multigenre Billboard 200, the LP debuts at No. 4 (with 70,000 in consumption). It also opens at No. 1 on Top Christian Albums.
The duo's debut is bittersweet. Joey and Rory Feek married in 2002 and have one daughter, Indiana, who just turned 2 years old on Feb. 17. In 2014, Joey began chemotherapy for stage-four cervical cancer. She relapsed in 2015, with the cancer being deemed terminal. Electing to cease treatments, Feek is currently under hospice care at the family's home.
"No one is more surprised that our Hymns record has sold this many copies than Joey and I," Rory tells Billboard. "For the last few months, we've been in Indiana, far away from the music business, living and sharing the story of our personal journey through my blog. We haven't been promoting our careers at all. The only way I can explain the sales of this record is that it's a byproduct of something bigger: love."
The sales week easily marks the pair's strongest. Previously, Joey + Rory tallied seven appearances on Top Country Albums, including two top 10s: The Life of a Song (No. 10 peak in 2008) and Album Number Two (No. 9, 2010). The Life of a Song represented the act's prior best weekly sales total: 8,000 upon its debut (Nov. 15, 2008).
'DOWN' IS UPVince Gill collects his 15th top 10 on Top Country Albums, as Down to My Last Bad Habit starts at No. 4 (17,000 sold). Gill co-wrote and co-produced all 12 tracks on the set, which includes guest appearances from artists including Little Big Town, the featured act on launch single "Take Me Down," which holds at No. 60 on Country Airplay.
NO JOKE: Also on Top Country Albums is the first top 10 debut for a comedy set in nine years. Wheeler Walker's irreverent Redneck Shit, his first entry on the chart, arrives at No. 9 (6,000). The most recent comedy LP to bow in the top 10 was Larry the Cable Guy's 2007 LP Morning Constitutions (No. 5, 56,000).
This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.
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Joey Feek and wife
Joey + Rory's bittersweet 'Hymns' debuts at No. 1 on top country albums chart
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 09: Rory Feek and Joey Feek of the band Joey & Rory perform on the Chevrolet Riverfront Stage during the 2013 CMA Music Festival on June 9, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon IV/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 07: Musicians Rory Lee Feek and Joey Martin Feek of Joey & Rory arrives at the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 06: Musicians Joey Martin Feek and Rory Lee Feek attend The ACM Experience during the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the Orleans Arena on April 6, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jerod Harris/ACMA2013/Getty Images for ACM)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 07: Rory Lee Feek and Joey Martin Feek perform at Las Vegas Convention Center on December 7, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mindy Small/FilmMagic)
INDIO, CA - APRIL 24: Joey Feek (L) and Rory Feek of Joey + Rory perform as part of the Stagecoach Music Festival at the Empire Polo Fields on April 24, 2010 in Indio, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Rory Feek and Joey Feek of the band Joey and Rory attend the 'Country Strong' premiere at Green Hills Cinema on November 8, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon IV/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS - APRIL 17: Musicians Rory Feek (L) and Joey Martin of Joey + Rory perform onstage at the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards concerts at the Fremont Street Experience during the on April 17, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
TWIN LAKES, WI - JULY 18: Joey Martin Feek and Rory Lee Feek (R) of singer/Songwriter duo Joey + Rory perform at the 17th Annual Country Thunder USA music festival on July 18, 2009 in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 16: (L-R) Singer Joey Martin Feek and Rory Lee Feek attend the 2009 CMT Music Awards at the Sommet Center on June 16, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 16: Singer Joey Martin Feek and Rory Lee Feek of Joey + Rory perform on stage during the 2009 CMT Music Awards at the Sommet Center on June 16, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - APRIL 04: Rory Lee Feek and Joey Martin Feek of Joey & Rory pose Backstage Creations at the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards Day 1 on April 4, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
LAS VEGAS - APRIL 06: Joey Martin (L) and Rory Feek of Joey + Rory perform during the 44th annual Academy Of Country Music Awards All-Star Jam held at the MGM Grand on April 6, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/ACM2009/Getty Images for ACMA)