Rory Feek says daughter, 6, can recognize late mom Joey Feek's voice on radio

Gina Vivinetto

Rory Feek says his 6-year-old daughter, Indiana, can recognize her late mom Joey Feek's voice on the radio.

The country music star, 54, told People magazine that he and Indiana were recently dining with loved ones when the little girl heard music playing faintly in the background. "Indiana goes, ‘It’s Mama,'” Rory remembered. “Indiana starts singing the song, and I thought, ‘No.’ I couldn’t really hear it. All of us got really quiet, and it took a lot of work for me to realize that’s Joey. One of our songs was playing on the radio.”

Joey Martin Feek and Rory Lee Feek (AP)

“She’s highly aware of her mama, her mama’s voice, what her mama looks like. She keeps her alive, just like I do," he added.

Indiana, who has Down syndrome, was just 2 years old when Joey — Rory’s partner in love and in music as part of the country duo Joey + Rory — died of cervical cancer at age 40 in March 2016.

Though her mom has been gone for more than half of her life, Indiana is aware of her presence all around the Tennessee farm where she lives with Rory, and at her gravesite in a nearby cemetery. Joey's final resting place is a “beautiful place where we walk and spend a lot of time,” said Rory, adding that Indiana will sometimes “lay down right in front of mama’s cross and look up at the sky.”

As Indiana gets older, she understands more about her mother's death and "she’s talking about things differently,” Rory shared. “Now every time we leave (the cemetery), she wants to kiss Mama’s cross, every single time."

Rory documents his life as a single dad in the new docuseries "This Life I Live," which airs Sundays on RFD-TV. Though carrying on without Joey by his side has been painful, Rory, who has two adult daughters, Heidi, 33, and Hopie, 29, from an earlier marriage, said he has learned to embrace joy whenever he can.

“Life has a way of being OK. Life keeps going. The world keeps turning. It doesn’t mean that you don’t miss that person like crazy and that there isn’t a big void inside of you," said the musician. “But that also doesn’t mean that there can’t be a lot of joy and happiness and you can’t wake up every day pinching yourself, which is what I feel like I do.

"And I don’t think I would have known that exactly four years ago," he added.