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Naomi Judd, the Kentucky-born singer of the Grammy-winning duo The Judds and mother of Wynonna and Ashley Judd, has died at age 76.
Her death was announced by her daughters on Saturday in a statement provided to The Associated Press.
‘Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,’ the statement said.
‘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.’ The statement did not elaborate further.
Naomi Judd, the Kentucky-born singer of the Grammy-winning duo The Judds and mother of Wynonna and Ashley Judd, has died at age 76
Wynonna Judd, Ashley Judd and Naomi Judd during ‘Kiss The Girls’ Premiere at Paramount Theatre in Hollywood, California
Wynonna Judd, left, and Naomi Judd arrive at the CMT Music Awards on Monday, April 11
Wynonna Judd’s final Instagram post before Naomi’s death showed off her excitement to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame
Naomi Judd posts a picture of her book ‘River of Time’ on Instagram with caption: Only by telling our stories will more people understand. Only by telling the truth will we stop the stigma. I’ve told my story. And now you can tell yours. You are not alone. I’m still here
Judd had spoken publicly and written books over the years about her struggles with mental health issues.
In a 2016 interview with Good Morning America, she said she’d faced ‘extreme’ and ‘severe’ depression, even considering suicide at a bridge near her family’s farm.
‘[Fans] see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am,’ she said. ‘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.’
‘When I came off the tour I went into this deep, dark absolutely terrifying hole and I couldn’t get out,’ she added. ‘I spent two years on my couch.’
The announcement came the day before the Judds were set to be formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame at a medallion ceremony in Nashville.
The mother-daughter performers scored 14 No. 1 songs in a career that spanned nearly three decades.
After rising to the top of country music, they called it quits in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi Judd with hepatitis.
The Judds’ hits included Love Can Build a Bridge in 1990, Mama He’s Crazy in 1984, Why Not Me in 1984, Turn It Loose in 1988, Girls Night Out in 1985, Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain in 1986 and Grandpa in 1986.
Wynonna Judd, left, and Naomi Judd arrive at the CMT Music Awards on Monday, April 11, 2022, at the Municipal Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn.
The Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday
Naomi pictured in Universal City in March 2018
Naomi Judd, left, and Wynonna Judd, of The Judds, perform at the ‘Girls’ Night Out: Superstar Women of Country,’ in Las Vegas, April 4, 2011
Wynonna Judd, left, and her mother, Naomi Judd, of The Judds, perform during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta on Jan. 30, 1994
The Judds had also recently announced a farewell tour, the first by Naomi and Wynonna in more than a decade.
The short, 10-date tour, which was being produced by Sandbox Live and Live Nation, was to start on September 30 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and wrap up October 28 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
‘What I’m looking forward to most is celebrating Judd music with the fans,’ said Wynonna in a statement when the tour was announced. ‘Mom and I have had quite the journey over the last 38 years, and the fans have been with us through it all. This tour is a celebration for them.’
The Judds sang on the CMT Music Awards telecast and walked the red carpet just this month. The show aired live on CBS April 11.
‘Honored to have witnessed ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ just a few short weeks ago,’ singer Maren Morris posted on Twitter on Saturday.
Dolly Parton and Wynona and Naomi Judd perform ‘Stand By Your Man,’ as part of a five woman group vocal, at the 35th annual Academy of Country Music Awards
Judd stands behind President George H.W. Bush at a rally just prior to the 1992 Presidential Election
The Judds flanking legendary comedian Bob Hope and his wife Doloris
‘This is heartbreaking news! Naomi Judd was one of the sweetest people I´ve ever known,’ singer Travis Tritt posted on Twitter, noting that he had worked with Judd several times on screen and during performances.
Born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky, Naomi was working as a nurse in Nashville, when she and Wynonna started singing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, together with elements of acoustic music, bluegrass and blues, made them stand out in the genre at the time.
‘We had a such a stamp of originality on what we were trying to do,’ Naomi Judd told The AP after it was announced that they would be joining the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Judds released six studio albums and an EP between 1984 and 1991 and won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music. They earned a total of five Grammy Awards together on hits like ‘Why Not Me’ and ‘Give A Little Love.’
The Judds sang about family, the belief in marriage and the virtue of fidelity. Because Naomi was so young looking, the two were mistaken for sisters early in their career.
Judd and her husband Larry Strickland at a 2004 event for Musicares
The Judd sisters with Natalie Cole and Lyle Lovett
Naomi with daughter Ashley Judd and husband Larry Strickland
They first got attention singing on Ralph Emery’s morning show in early 1980, where the host named them the ‘Soap Sisters’ because Naomi said she used to make her own soap.
After the success of ‘Mama He’s Crazy,’ they won the Horizon Award at the 1984 CMA Awards. Naomi started her speech by saying ‘Slap the dog and spit in the fire!’
Daughter Ashley Judd is an actor known for her roles in such movies as ‘Kiss the Girls,’ ´´Double Jeopardy’ and ‘Heat.’
Strickland, who was a backup singer for Elvis Presley, was married to Naomi Judd for 32 years.
Judd faced hard times and battled depression, as she admitted in one of her several books.
Larry Strickland, Naomi Judd, JT Hodges and Kasey Hodges attend the private screening of the movie ‘Christmas Stars’ at the Franklin Theater on November 25, 2019
Naomi with daughter Ashley at the premiere of Resurrection in Los Angeles in 1997
In her book ‘ River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope ‘ she writes about struggles a single mother and a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault
Judd posted an Instagram photo from a mental health conference in 2017, seen here with Carlos Zarate Jr, the chief of the National Institutes of Mental Health
She claimed to have put herself through nursing school to support her daughters before pursuing her Nashville dreams with Wynonna, becoming the Judds.
In her book ‘River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope‘ she writes about struggles a single mother and a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
At the height of their popularity, Naomi lived through the previously incurable Hepatitis C virus, having been pronounced cured five years after the diagnosis.
After finishing the last Judds tour in 2011, she battled depression and anxiety through treatment.
She called River of Time ‘her poignant message of hope to anyone whose life has been scarred by trauma.’