Naomi Judd dead at 76 – Founder of country duo The Judds
Naomi Judd has died aged 76. The country music star was one half of country music duo The Judds.
The singer’s daughter, Ashley Judd, confirmed the news via social media. Judd did not specify the cause of death, but noted, “We lost our beautiful mother to mental illness.” Naomi Judd lived on a farm just outside of Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville.
Naomi and Wynonna Judd rose to fame in 1983 with “Had a Dream (for the Heart)”. A year later, the duo topped the country charts with “Why Not Me.” The Judds went on to rack up No. 1 hits – 14 overall – and five Grammys. The Judds’ music told the stories of working men and women across the United States.
The Judds retired from performing together in 1990 when Naomi announced she had a life-threatening case of hepatitis C. They played their last gig together in 1991. Doctors at the time gave Naomi only three months to live, but by 1995 her illness was in complete remission.
Wynonna’s solo career had taken off and so Naomi turned to activism, acting and writing as her passions. The Judds have reunited for the occasional gig or brief tour, including one that was scheduled to begin this fall. They performed onstage at the CMT Music Awards in April 2022. The Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday night.
Diana Ellen Judd was born on January 11, 1946 in Ashland, Kentucky, a mining town. When she was only three years old, her uncle sexually assaulted her. This incident has often been cited as the root of his struggles with anxiety and depression. She became pregnant at 17 with Wynonna and moved to Los Angeles in 1968. Naomi began studying for a nursing degree and Ashley Judd was born later that year.
In 1972, Naomi divorced her husband and found herself a single mother. She left school and found work as a model, waitress and secretary. She went out occasionally but after being brutally beaten and raped, she fled California to return to Kentucky. Naomi resumed her nursing studies, while Wynonna took up singing and guitar for entertainment. From time to time Mrs. Judd would join us and soon the birth of the music group The Judds occurred.
“I could only afford the used record bin, and there was a 33-1/3 Hazel and Alice album,” Judd Told documentary filmmaker Ken Burns on an album by Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard. “They were all coal songs. And as these women harmonized together, it occurred to me: Wynonna and I couldn’t talk to each other, but lo and behold, we could sing together.
The Judds moved to Nashville in 1979 to pursue a career in music. They had their chance in 1983 when they met the daughter of an executive at RCA Records.