Naomi Judd, who with her daughter Wynonna formed the dynamic duo The Judds, one of country music’s most successful acts, has died. She was 76 years old.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory,” Wynonna and sister, actress Ashley Judd, announced Saturday.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Judds had a string of hit singles, and in 1994, they released a compilation album of 12 songs that topped the country charts, including Grammy-winning hits “Why Not Me,” “Mama He’s Crazy,” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days).”
Their songs deftly blended idealized small-town sentiments with the raw emotion of single women juggling motherhood, family, and romance – much of which was based on their real-life experiences.
Judd was only 17 years old when she gave birth to her eldest daughter, Christina Ciminella, who took her father’s surname, Michael. After Naomi and her husband divorced in 1972, their daughter changed her name to Wynonna Judd.
Naomi took custody of Wynonna, now 57, and the two famously taught each other to play music while struggling to make ends meet.
The heartfelt songs struck a chord with the American people. From 1984 to 1990, the Judds were named the top vocal duo by the Academy of Country Music seven years in a row.
From 1985 to 1992, they also won five Grammy Awards for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group, including “Give A Little Love” and “Love Can Build a Bridge,” the latter of which earned Naomi another Grammy for Country Song of the Year.
On Sunday, the Judds will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Looking forward to seeing your sweet faces along the red carpet on Sunday!” Wynonna made an Instagram post on Friday. It is unknown whether she will still attend.
Naomi married Elvis Presley’s backup singer Larry Strickland in 1989, and The Judds disbanded two years later after Naomi was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. However, the duo reunited in 2000 for “The Last Encore Tour.”
Ashley, Naomi’s younger daughter, is a successful actress and activist who has appeared in films such as “Double Jeopardy” and “Kiss The Girls.”
Naomi claimed in 2016 that she has been suffering from severe sadness and anxiety since she and Wynonna quit performing as The Judds in 2011.
“[Fans] see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am. But then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks, and not get out of my pajamas, and not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad,” she said.