There wasn’t a dry eye in Nashville or in the living rooms of viewers from around the world Sunday night, as Wynonna and Ashley Judd honored their beloved mother, country music icon Naomi Judd just one day after her tragic battle with depression came to a sad and unexpected end.
Wynonna and Naomi, the Grammy-winning mother-daughter duo known to country fans everywhere as The Judds were slated to accept their place in the Country Music Hall of Fame together before embarking on their first arena tour together in more than a decade.
Instead, on Saturday, fans learned the heartbreaking news that Naomi Judd, 76, had passed away.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy,” Wynonna and Ashley said in a joint statement. “We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness.”
At the behest of the Judd family, the scheduled induction into the Hall of Fame went on “with heavy hearts,” and with Ashley Judd joining her sister Wynonna on stage to accept the award on their mother’s behalf.
"We are shocked and saddened by the death of Naomi Judd, who enters the Country Music Hall of Fame tomorrow as a member of the @juddsofficial. Her family has asked that we continue with the Judds' Hall of Fame induction Sunday. We will do so, with heavy hearts."
—Kyle Young, CEO pic.twitter.com/4mcLLQrjfX
— Country Music HOF (@countrymusichof) May 1, 2022
“My momma loved you so much, and she appreciated your love for her, and I’m sorry that she couldn’t hang on until today,” a sobbing Ashley Judd said. “Your esteem for her and your regard for her really penetrated her heart and it was your affection for her that did keep her going in the last years and please come see Pop,” she continued, referring to fellow singer and husband to Naomi Judd, Larry Strickland.
Wynonna spoke next in a short speech that tore at viewers’ hearts.
“I didn’t prepare anything tonight because I knew Mom would probably talk the most,” Wynonna confessed. “I’m gonna make this fast because my heart’s broken, and I feel so blessed.”
“It’s a very strange dynamic,” Wynonna said, “to be this broken and this blessed.”
“Though my heart is broken,” Wynonna said, “I will continue to sing.”
As previously reported, Naomi Judd detailed her lifelong struggle with depression in a 2016 memoir, “River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope.”
“I had plenty of reasons to jump out of bed every morning,” Naomi wrote. “Never did I expect that only months after the Encore tour [in 2010] ended, I would feel I had every reason to jump off a bridge to end my tortured existence.”
“I learned the hard way,” she wrote, “that mental health issues cover a wide scope of disorders and can be hard to diagnose.”
“My heart is broken for Wynonna, Ashley Judd as they try to grasp the tremendous loss of their beloved mother Naomi who has passed away today,” tweeted singer/songwriter (and younger sister to Dolly) Stella Parton, on Saturday. “Please keep them and all those they love in your thoughts and prayers.”
“No one knows the struggle of chronic depression unless they’ve had to cope with it or experienced a family member suffering,” Parton continued. “May sweet, beautiful Naomi Rest In Peace and sing with the angels.”
No one knows the struggle of chronic depression unless they’ve had to cope with it or experienced a family member suffering. May sweet, beautiful Naomi Rest In Peace and sing with the angels.
— Stella Parton (@StellaParton) May 1, 2022
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