Wynona, who performed The Judds' classic 'River of Time' at the tribute to mother Naomi at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville
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Both of the late Naomi Judd’s daughters paid tribute to the late country legend – who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 76 on April 30 – at a concert in Nashville Sunday night.

Daughter Ashley Judd began the proceedings at the Music City’s Ryman Auditorium and paid tribute to her mother, calling her ‘every woman’ for the things she’d been through and accomplished.

‘Tonight, we are remembering an icon and a legend who left country music better than she found it,’ Judd said. ‘She was totally extraordinary.’

Judd then introduced her older sister, whom she referred to as ‘the GOAT’ or ‘greatest of all time’, Wynona, who performed The Judds’ classic ‘River of Time.’    

Her husband Larry read a letter from a stranger who said he’d met Judd for the first time on a plane just weeks before she died. 

Ashley McBryde, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Allison Russel, Jamey Johnson, Brad Paisley, Carly Pearce, Little Big Town and The Gaithers performed.

Brandi Carlisle, Brad Paisley and Little Big Town are among the star-studded list of performers. 

Bono, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Morgan Freeman, Bette Midler, Salma Hayek and Reba McEntire are all scheduled to speak. Good Morning America host Robin Roberts will emcee. 

Wynona, who performed The Judds' classic 'River of Time' at the tribute to mother Naomi at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville

Wynona, who performed The Judds’ classic ‘River of Time’ at the tribute to mother Naomi at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville

Bono, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Morgan Freeman, Bette Midler, Salma Hayek and Reba McEntire are all scheduled to speak. Good Morning America host Robin Roberts will emcee

Bono, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Morgan Freeman, Bette Midler, Salma Hayek and Reba McEntire are all scheduled to speak. Good Morning America host Robin Roberts will emcee

‘Naomi was someone who never hesitated to show kindness and compassion to others,’ said Roberts. 

Singer Martina McBride then recited a poem written by Maya Angelou, whom McBride called ‘Naomi’s great friend.’ 

Bono sent in a recorded message, reciting a poem and then blowing a kiss. 

Hayek described meeting Judd as ‘like meeting Scarlett O’Hara. She had so much talent in her blood and so much fire in her heart.’ 

‘I love Naomi Judd. I miss her humor, I miss her huge smile and I love the love that she just gave everybody. What a talent, very smart lady, just gonna miss her a lot,’ said McEntire. 

Paisley recounted opening for The Judds at the age of 13 and spoke about their kindness towards him before performing their hit ‘Young Love.’ 

Freeman, who has co-starred with Judd in several films, said: ‘I hope you go forward in peace.’ 

The singer, 76, shot herself at her Tennessee farm on April 30 – a day before being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame – after battling her mental health, Ashley told Good Morning America on Thursday.

Ashley, 54, choked back tears as she drip-fed more details about the iconic singer’s suicide last month in her first television interview on the tragedy.

Country Music Hall of Famer Naomi Judd (right) killed herself with a gun, her daughter has revealed. Naomi is pictured with her daughters Wynonna (left) and Ashley (center) in 1997

Country Music Hall of Famer Naomi Judd (right) killed herself with a gun, her daughter has revealed. Naomi is pictured with her daughters Wynonna (left) and Ashley (center) in 1997

'She used a weapon…a firearm,' heartbroken Ashley Judd shared in an interview with Good Morning America. 'So that's the piece of information we're very uncomfortable sharing'

‘She used a weapon…a firearm,’ heartbroken Ashley Judd shared in an interview with Good Morning America. ‘So that’s the piece of information we’re very uncomfortable sharing’

Ashley told GMA: ‘I appreciate so deeply and really want to start by thanking everyone for their outpouring of love and condolences and that my sister and I, we have a depth of gratitude.

‘I’m here as an individual sitting with you by myself, but both my sister and Pop have sort of deputized me in certain ways to speak on behalf of the family at this early time – before things about the 30th of April become public without our control.

‘You know, whether it’s the autopsy or the exact manner of her death, and so that’s really the impetus for this timing, otherwise it’s obviously way too soon and so that’s important for us to say up front.

‘I think that I would start with my mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish and that she was walked home.

‘When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to be clear and make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It’s very real, and it is enough to – it lies. It’s savage and, you know, my mother – our mother – couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers.

‘That is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside of her, because the barrier between the regard in which they held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart and the lie the disease told her was so convincing.

‘[The lie] that you’re not enough, that you’re not loved. That you’re not worthy and I mean her brain hurt. It physically hurt.

‘And I’m tasked with an exceedingly difficult task in disclosing the manner of the way my mother chose not to continue to live. And I’ve thought about this so much because once I say it, it cannot be unsaid and so – because we don’t want it to be a part of the gossip economy – I will share with you that she used a weapon.

‘Mother used a firearm so that’s the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing, but understand we’re in a position that, you know, if we don’t say it, someone else is going to.’

Ashley discovered Naomi shortly after she killed herself. The singer died at her home in Franklin, Tennessee (pictured) on April 30

Ashley discovered Naomi shortly after she killed herself. The singer died at her home in Franklin, Tennessee (pictured) on April 30

Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd are pictured at the 2022 CMT Awards on April 11

Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd are pictured at the 2022 CMT Awards on April 11

Naomi (left) and Wynonna Judd (right), performing as the mother-daughter duo The Judds, scored 14 No. 1 songs in a career that spanned nearly three decades. They are pictured at the CMA Music Festival in 2009

Naomi (left) and Wynonna Judd (right), performing as the mother-daughter duo The Judds, scored 14 No. 1 songs in a career that spanned nearly three decades. They are pictured at the CMA Music Festival in 2009

Ashley, who was visiting Naomi’s Tennessee home on the day she died, also detailed her last moments with her mother.  

‘It was a mixed day,’ Ashley told GMA. ‘I visit with my mom and Pop every day when I’m home in Tennessee. So, I was at the house visiting as I am every day, and mom said to me: ‘Will you stay with me?’

‘I said, ‘of course, I will.’

The actress had stepped outside to greet a family friend and when she went to notify her mother that their guest had arrived, she found her dead. 

‘I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.

‘My mother is entitled to her dignity and her privacy and so there are some things that we would just like to retain as a family. 

‘I want to be very careful when we talk about this today that for anyone having those ideas or those impulses, you know, to talk to someone, to share, to be open to be vulnerable. There is a national suicide hotline.

'I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there and I discovered her,' Ashley shared. 'I have both grief and trauma from discovering her'

‘I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there and I discovered her,’ Ashley shared. ‘I have both grief and trauma from discovering her’

Naomi Judd is pictured with her daughters, Wynonna and Ashley in an undated photograph

Naomi Judd is pictured with her daughters, Wynonna and Ashley in an undated photograph

Wynonna (left) and Naomi Judd (right) are pictured with Dolly Parton in 1987

Wynonna (left) and Naomi Judd (right) are pictured with Dolly Parton in 1987

Ricky Skaggs presents Ashley Judd the medallion that would have been given to her mother Naomi Judd during The Judds' Country Music Hall of Fame induction on May 1

Ricky Skaggs presents Ashley Judd the medallion that would have been given to her mother Naomi Judd during The Judds’ Country Music Hall of Fame induction on May 1

Naomi Judd shows off her Nashville-area farmhouse on Oprah Winfrey Network in Jan. 2016

Naomi Judd shows off her Nashville-area farmhouse on Oprah Winfrey Network in Jan. 2016

Ashley also shared what it’s like to love someone struggling with mental illness.

‘I really accepted the love my mother was capable of giving me because I knew she was fragile, so when I walked around the back of their house and came in the kitchen door and she said ‘there’s my darling, there’s my baby and she lit up,’ I savored those moments,’ she said.

‘And every time we hugged and she drank me in, I was very present for those tactile experiences because I knew there would come a time when she would be gone, whether it was sooner or whether it was later, whether it was by the disease or another cause.

‘Mom was a brilliant conversationalist. She was a star. She was an underrated songwriter, and she was someone who suffered from mental illness, you know, and had a lot of trouble getting off the sofa except to go into town every day to The Cheesecake Factory where all the staff knew and loved her.

‘And I know everything about them because she told me everything about them. Duane at Walgreens who needs to get a dog – that’s the way she was.

Naomi had written extensively about her struggles with depression, and even referenced suicide in an open letter published in People magazine in 2018.

‘For everyone mourning the death of someone who committed suicide, an inevitable question arises: Why did this happen? Unfortunately, we don’t have very good answers,’ she wrote.

‘We do know that suicidal behavior accompanies many behavioral brain disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. Suicide is actually one of the leading causes of preventable death among these mental illnesses.’ 

In her 2018 essay, Naomi Judd advocated for more research into the nature of suicide.  

‘To understand this issue better, we have to bring the study of suicide into mainstream neuroscience and treat the condition like every other brain disorder,’ she wrote. 

‘People who commit suicide are experiencing problems with mood, impulse control and aggression, all of which involve discrete circuits in the brain that regulate these aspects of human experience, but we still don’t understand how these circuits go haywire in the brains of suicide victims.’

She described what depression feels like to her in an interview with People magazine while promoting her 2016 book.

‘Nobody can understand it unless you’ve been there,’ she said.

‘Think of your very worst day of your whole life – someone passed away, you lost your job, you found out you were being betrayed, that your child had a rare disease – you can take all of those at once and put them together and that’s what depression feels like.’

Naomi Judd (second from right) appeared on The View alongside Meredith Vieira (left), Rosie O'Donnell (second from left) and Star Jones (right) in 2001

Naomi Judd (second from right) appeared on The View alongside Meredith Vieira (left), Rosie O’Donnell (second from left) and Star Jones (right) in 2001

Actress Ashley Judd (left) and her mother, singer Naomi Judd (right), arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of Olympus Has Fallen in Los Angeles on March 18, 2013

Actress Ashley Judd (left) and her mother, singer Naomi Judd (right), arrive at the Los Angeles premiere of Olympus Has Fallen in Los Angeles on March 18, 2013

Wynonna (left) and Ashley Judd (right) break down during The Judds induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville on May 1, 2022

Wynonna (left) and Ashley Judd (right) break down during The Judds induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville on May 1, 2022

Naomi took her own life the day before she and Wynonna were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The Judds scored 14 No. 1 songs in a career that spanned nearly three decades.

In addition to The Judds, Eddie Bayers, who played on many of the duo’s records, Ray Charles and Pete Drake were also inducted into the Hall of Fame on May 1. 

Ashley and Wynonna broke down in tears during the induction ceremony.

‘My mama loved you so much,’ Ashley said to the crowd gathered. ‘And I’m sorry that she couldn’t hang on until today,’ she said through tears.

‘I didn’t prepare anything tonight because I knew Mom would probably talk the most,’ Wynonna told the audience in Nashville.

‘I’m gonna make this fast, because my heart’s broken, and I feel so blessed. It’s a very strange dynamic, to be this broken and this blessed…. Though my heart’s broken, I will continue to sing, because that’s what we do.’

Ashley Judd posts about Naomi Judd's death on April 30

Ashley Judd posts about Naomi Judd’s death on April 30

Larry Strickland, Ashley Judd's father and Naomi's husband of 32 years, said: 'Naomi Judd's family request privacy during this heartbreaking time'

Larry Strickland, Ashley Judd’s father and Naomi’s husband of 32 years, said: ‘Naomi Judd’s family request privacy during this heartbreaking time’

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved onesFor confidential help, call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here 

 

‘Mother used a firearm… if we don’t say it, someone else will’: Ashley Judd reveals details of Naomi’s death in first TV interview since 

‘I appreciate so deeply and really want to start by thanking everyone for their outpouring of love and condolences and that my sister and I, we have a depth of gratitude,’ Ashley Judd told GMA.

‘I’m here as an individual sitting with you by myself, but both my sister and Pop have sort of deputized me in certain ways to speak on behalf of the family at this early time – before things about the 30th of April become public without our control.

‘You know, whether it’s the autopsy or the exact manner of her death, and so that’s really the impetus for this timing, otherwise it’s obviously way too soon and so that’s important for us to say up front.

‘I think that I would start with my mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish and that she was walked home.

‘When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important to be clear and make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It’s very real, and it is enough to – it lies. It’s savage and, you know, my mother – our mother – couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers.

‘That is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside of her, because the barrier between the regard in which they held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart and the lie the disease told her was so convincing.

‘[The lie] that you’re not enough, that you’re not loved. That you’re not worthy and I mean her brain hurt. It physically hurt.

‘And I’m tasked with an exceedingly difficult task in disclosing the manner of the way my mother chose not to continue to live. And I’ve thought about this so much because once I say it, it cannot be unsaid and so – because we don’t want it to be a part of the gossip economy – I will share with you that she used a weapon.

‘Mother used a firearm so that’s the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing, but understand we’re in a position that, you know, if we don’t say it, someone else is going to.

‘It was a mixed day. I visit with my mom and Pop every day when I’m home in Tennessee. So, I was at the house visiting as I am every day, and mom said to me: ‘Will you stay with me?’

‘I said, ‘of course, I will.’

The actress had stepped outside to greet a family friend and when she went to notify her mother that their guest had arrived, she found her dead. 

‘I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.

‘My mother is entitled to her dignity and her privacy and so there are some things that we would just like to retain as a family. 

‘I want to be very careful when we talk about this today that for anyone having those ideas or those impulses, you know, to talk to someone, to share, to be open to be vulnerable. There is a national suicide hotline.

‘I really accepted the love my mother was capable of giving me because I knew she was fragile, so when I walked around the back of their house and came in the kitchen door and she said ‘there’s my darling, there’s my baby and she lit up,’ I savored those moments.

‘And every time we hugged and she drank me in, I was very present for those tactile experiences because I knew there would come a time when she would be gone, whether it was sooner or whether it was later, whether it was by the disease or another cause.

‘Mom was a brilliant conversationalist. She was a star. She was an underrated songwriter, and she was someone who suffered from mental illness, you know, and had a lot of trouble getting off the sofa except to go into town every day to The Cheesecake Factory where all the staff knew and loved her.

‘And I know everything about them because she told me everything about them. Duane at Walgreens who needs to get a dog – that’s the way she was.

‘She always had $100 bills stuffed in her bra, passing them out to the janitorial staff. An unfailingly kind, sensitive woman.

‘She was very isolated in many ways because of the disease and yet there were a lot of people who showed up for her over the years, not just me.’

Ashley also shred a letter from her sister, Wynonna, addressing her mother’s passing.

‘This is from sister and we talked a lot about doing this together and what she shared is just so her,’ Ashley said before reading aloud: ‘Thinking a lot about you today. I love you four exclamation points. I’ve been looking at photos of us when we were little, laugh out loud, good lord in capitals, you were such a cutie pie.

‘I laugh and I cry and I thank god we have each other. I need to take some time to process and I need this time to myself. I’m not ready yet to speak publicly about what happened, so I know you understand why I’m not there today.

‘We will do this piece differently. We have each other and I’m grateful we’re connected as we walk together through this storm. I just can’t – I just can’t believe she’s gone.

‘I’m here. This will take time. I love you, dear sister, I’m proud of you and I’m here whenever you need me,’ Wynonna’s letter concluded. 

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