NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Fans of Naomi Judd, the late matriarch of Grammy-winning country duo The Judds, will have a chance to say goodbye and rejoice in their successes on a final tour led by her daughter Wynonna and all-star musical partners.
The Judd family continues to mourn his sudden death in a year that should have been a celebration. The tour was announced just weeks before Naomi Judd, 76, committed suicide on April 30, the day before their induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“It’s devastatingly beautiful to go back in time and relive some of those memories,” Wynonna Judd said this week as she sat on a tour bus after rehearsals. “Yesterday I was in rehearsal and there’s a part of the show where they synch mom singing with me. And I turned around and just lost it.
The 11-city tour begins Friday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and will include stops in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Fort Worth, Texas and Nashville before concluding in their home state of Lexington, Kentucky. Special guests include Brandi Carlile, Ashley McBryde, Little Big Town, Kelsea Ballerini, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill and tour opener Martina McBride.
Judd’s husband, Larry Strickland, and two daughters, Wynonna and Ashley, reflected on their mother’s legacy, not just in music, but as a caregiver and advocate. The red-haired duo scored more than a dozen No. 1 hits, combining the powerful voice of young Wynonna with the family harmonies and stage charm of Naomi. Reflecting their Appalachian roots with polished pop styles, their hits included “Why Not Me”, “Mama He’s Crazy”, “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain”, and “Love Can Build a Bridge”.
Naomi’s husband of nearly 33 years said he hoped fans would feel comforted to hear their hit songs in the arenas again. But he knows he will struggle when he sees his wife on the big screens or hears her voice again.
“I have a hard time seeing pictures of her now. I don’t know how much I can handle,” Strickland said.
Strickland said his wife was excited to tour again with her daughter because she loved the connection with the fans. The single mother’s story of supporting two daughters becoming one of the greatest duos in country music history, along with Naomi’s flashy wardrobe and bubbly accessibility, made fans relate. to her.
“She loved being on stage and singing,” Strickland said. “She loved people. And she was doing her twist and twirl. She was the harmony singer. She was all about her hair and the little dresses she would have made. And so it was his world.
Her family has endless stories of Naomi Judd’s empathy and passion for helping, her love of animals, especially dogs, and her desire to learn. A nurse by trade before her musical career, she served on the board of directors of the American Humane Association and was a member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Her daughter Ashley recalled how she used to walk around with $20 and $50 bills in her bra and hand them out to people, especially women.
Wynonna Judd said she recently visited the same hospital outside of Nashville where her mother died. And she noticed that on one of the walls in the emergency room there were pictures of volunteers helping patients.
“And there’s a picture of my mom in the cutest little wig and she has her name tag, ‘Naomi Judd’,” she said.
Naomi Judd struggled most of her life with depression, which she openly shared in her book “River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope.” Her family said she was also being treated for bipolar disorder and PTSD.
“It’s the complexity of this issue, because my mother, even in her darkest hours, would put on her wig and come down to the ER and help other people during their ERs,” Wynonna Judd said, her voice strong. breaking. “So I find it quite devastating that she’s gotten to a point where she’s done helping herself.”
Strickland also noted how mental illness affected his wife. Despite his incredible enthusiasm for the tour, his mental state was deteriorating, he said. Strickland said she was seeing a psychiatrist, but her depression was resistant to treatment and they were trying different types of medication to help her.
“The lows she would experience with her mental illness just seemed to get worse,” he said.
Since The Judds’ beginnings in the 1980s, the family has lived in the public eye, headlining award shows and appearing on magazine covers, in books and on TV shows. But Naomi’s death has only intensified the scrutiny, to the point where the family is dispelling rumors that there is a succession dispute. Strickland, who is Ashley and Wynonna’s stepfather, has been named executor of the estate.
Ashley Judd said it was “obviously natural, good and appropriate that mum’s estate should go to Pop, her partner of 43 years, and then upon his eventual death go to her daughters”.
The actor was with his mother when she died and pleaded for the family’s legal request to prevent the release of police investigation files into his mother’s death. After an appeal, the Tennessee Supreme Court returned the case to the lower court. Ashley Judd said privacy should be given to any family facing suicide.
“We are an open family,” she said. “We are committed to raising awareness about walking with mental illness and reducing shame and stigma, guiding people to resources, and helping families build resilience and resilience in the face of devastation. And there is also a certain dignity and decency that is needed around the actual day of death.
Wynonna Judd said that since her mother’s death, people who have gone through similar experiences have reached out to her asking for resources and information about mental illness to be provided to fans during the tour.
“It’s very real to me. It’s not just show business. It’s an opportunity to help someone not end their life,” she said. We need to get rid of the stigma of the words mental illness because people won’t seek help.”
Wynonna’s relationship with her mother was sometimes filled with drama, but it continues to this day, as she sits under a tree at her home in Tennessee and processes her grief. “I love my mom and she still drives me crazy. Your relationship with your mom never ends,” she said. “I still talk to her and it’s awesome and it’s hard.”
The family wants fans to remember Naomi Judd as a beautiful, talented, intelligent and colorful woman who had her ups and downs and was honest about her journey.
“I want them to see that in adversity, in death, there is life,” Wynonna Judd said.
The National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available by calling or texting 988. There is also an online chat at 988lifeline.org.
Follow Kristin M. Hall at https://Twitter.com/kmhall
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