Los Angeles, May 1 (IANS) Singer and television star Naomi Judd, famous for nearly four decades as the matriarch of the country music duo the Judds, died aged 76.
No cause of death was immediately given, although in a statement daughters Wynonna Judd and Ashley Judd attributed their mother’s death to “the disease of mental illness”, reports ‘Variety’.
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 ceremony will go ahead, with Wynonna expected to attend, according to a statement sent to ‘Variety’ by a representative for the Hall.
“The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum joins family and fans in grieving the sudden loss of Naomi Judd,” the statement reads.
“Following the wishes of the Judd family, the museum will move forward with the Medallion Ceremony on Sunday, May 1, with Wynonna planning on being in attendance. In addition to The Judds, Eddie Bayers, Ray Charles and Pete Drake will be formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Public red carpet arrivals are cancelled.”
The Judds had also recently announced a farewell tour, the first by Naomi and Wynonna in more than a decade.
According to ‘Variety’, the short, 10-date tour, which was being produced by Sandbox Live and Live Nation, was to commence on September 30 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and wrap up on 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.”
Three of the arena shows, including the Nashville finale, had sold out, according to the Judds’ social media.
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, the same day the duo announced the reunion/goodbye tour.
As a duo, the Judds had remained mostly dormant in recent decades, with periodic reunions. They parted for the first time after doing what was billed as a final show in 1991, at a time when Naomi Judd had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C.
Following that, Wynonna embarked on a successful career as a solo artist while her mother raised awareness about the disease.
They reunited for the Power to Change Tour at the turn of the millennium.
Naomi Judd published nine books, the most recent of which was the memoir “River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope”, released in 2016.
Other titles included “Naomi’s Guide to Aging Gratefully: Being Your Best for the Rest of Your Life”, “Naomi’s Breakthrough Guide: 20 Choices to Transform Your Life” and several children’s books.
In the 1980s, the Judds had an unbroken string of eight straight No. 1 country singles, including ‘Why Not Me’ and ‘Mama’s Crazy’ as their breakout smashes in 1983, followed by such hits as ‘Girls’ Night Out’, ‘Grandpa (Tell Me Bout the Good Old Days)’ and ‘Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain’.
Their last charting single was ‘Stuck in Love’ in 2000. They had not released an album of original material as a duo since ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ in 1990, but their streak of ’80s singles continued to be popular on country radio to the present day.
Naomi Judd became a popular television personality outside of the singing limelight, as a 2003-2004 stint as a judge on ‘Star Search’ led to her own talk show, ‘Naomi’s New Morning’, which lasted for two seasons on the Hallmark Channel.
Other series appearances included ‘Can You Duet?’ on CMT and ‘My Cooking Rules’ on Fox, and acting gigs in the TV movies ‘The Killing Game’ and ‘A Holiday Romance’ and the theatrical feature ‘More American Graffiti’.
Diana Ellen Judd was born January 11, 1946 in Ashland, Kentucky. She often spoke of raising Wynonna and Ashley as a single parent following her divorce from their father, Michael Ciminella. She attended nursing school at the College of Marin, in California, with the intention of eventually becoming an MD.