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Friends and Colleagues of Naomi Judd Share Fond Memories of the Country Music Trailblazer

tazz | May 1, 2022
Friends and Colleagues of Naomi Judd Share Fond Memories of the Country Music Trailblazer
Naomi Judd
photo credit: Derrek Kupish, dkupish productions

Nashville is mourning the loss of Country Music Hall of Famer Naomi Judd, who passed at the age of 76 on April 30, 2022.

Hailing from the Appalachian foothills of Ashland, Ky., mother and daughter duo, The Judds, were first discovered by RCA label head Joe Galante in 1983 after landing a spot on WSM-TV’s ‘The Ralph Emery Show.’

They made their chart debut by the end of the year with “Had A Dream (For The Heart),” and the two were on their way to becoming one of the best-selling duos of all time.

For the rest of the 1980s, each single from The Judds released by RCA went to the Billboard​ ​Top 10, with 14 hits going all the way to number one. The Judds swept the CMA’s Vocal Group/Duo category from 1985 to 1991 and garnered six GRAMMY® Awards.

The Judds embarked on their ‘Farewell Tour’ in 1991 after Naomi’s diagnosis of Hepatitis C forced her to retire from the road. Naomi focused on her health, beating the disease, and wrote several New York Times best-selling books. The duo reunited briefly in the 2000s and again to honor Kenny Rogers in the fall of 2017. They were set to regroup this year for ‘The Final Tour’ to play a number of concerts in North America.

Recently, Judd was promoting her new memoir ‘River of Time: My Descent Into Depression and How I Emerged With Hope.’ The Judds were also scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on Sunday, May 1, 2022.

Judd’s friends and colleagues share fond memories of the country music trailblazer:

“We are heartbroken to learn about the passing of the legendary Naomi Judd and honored to have shared many unforgettable moments and performances together. Our hearts go out to her husband Larry, daughters Wynonna and Ashley, and legions of fans around the world during this difficult time.”

CMT Spokesperson

“There is no way I can get my mind to adjust to this reality. Naomi brought such a breath of fresh air to our industry with her uptown looks and down-home humor. Her talent was only equaled by her dedication to following her dream and her unbelievable work ethic. She was respected, admired and will be remembered for those attributes. Even as we prepared a place for her in the Hall of Fame, we know that God has prepared a place for her as well.”

–Jeannie Seely

“I’m saddened and shocked to hear of Naomi’s passing. Another old friend lost.”–JP Pennington, Exile

“We played together on a lot of shows as they blasted into superstardom. Like everyone else in our industry, we were taken with Naomi’s beauty and grace. We are shocked by her passing and missing her now. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”


“Such a warm and talented lady. Prayers for Wynonna, Ashley and her husband Larry, as well as all of their family, friends and fans as they grieve this tremendous loss.”

–John Berry

“We are all shocked and basically trying to process this tragic news! Naomi was iconic. She had a charismatic presence and a fire inside as intense as her trademark redhead and stunning features. I had the pleasure of working with The Judds several times throughout their different runs as a dynamic duo. Her subtle, but oh so noticeable low harmonies were unlike any other.Their music will ALWAYS be classic. My heart goes out to my friend Wy, Ashley and the whole family in this terribly sad time!”

–Heidi Newfield

The Judds were a unique and inspirational duo. Naomi’s life story reads like a fairytale. Her upbringing and working as a nurse and of her and Wyonna doing the 5:30 am Ralph Emery Show to their rise to superstardom. Naomi was loved by so many and will be missed.”–Kent Blazy

“I love the Judds. We got to play some shows with them and as expected, they were so great. Our thoughts go out to the Judd family.”

–David Ball

“So sorry for your loss Wy, Ashley, Larry and family.”

-Steve Dorff

“Country music lost an iconic woman who has inspired so many families across the globe, including ours. Our Momma was a huge fan of Judd’s family harmony which was no doubt a part of our family harmony growing up. She will be greatly missed. Whether singing live or conducting an interview, Naomi Judd always carried herself as if “Love Can Build A Bridge.” She will be greatly missed.”

–Flat River Band

“My heart hurts after hearing the news about Naomi. I was in radio before moving to Nashville and The Judd’s came along with a rootsy sound when so much of Country Music had an overproduced sound and had gotten away from its roots. Praying for Wynonna and the family.”

–Bobby Tomberlin

“Momma He’s Crazy” and “Grandpa” were favorites as a kid and just part of the soundtrack of my childhood. I once was meeting a friend for dinner and he was wearing his military attire, and the waiter informed us that Naomi Judd had seen him walk in and our meal was paid for and thanked him for his service. I’ll choose to remember her for that kind gesture over such a shocking tragic ending. Just shows that status, awards, and fame don’t always reflect the struggles inside. Prayers for all of the family.”

–Tess Frizzell 

“My heart goes out to Wynonna and Ashley on the passing of their mother, Naomi. In a world where someone might seem to have it all, mental illness can be a thief that steals joy from every moment. I pray that they can find peace moving forward knowing that their love did indeed build a bridge, maybe not fully realized on this side of heaven, but truly on the other side as Naomi has found her way home.”

–Devon O’Day, host of Main Street Today and family friend

“The Judds are one of our first memories of music and the reason we sing country music today. They taught us what harmonies were supposed to be, both bold and beautiful.We are devastated by the news and are sending all our love and prayers to the family as well as all the fellow Judds fans out there.”

–Joe and Martina

“The Judds were a powerhouse duo that changed the landscape of music and on the eve of their Country Music Hall of Fame induction, we have lost Naomi. I’m so sorry and sad for the millions of fans, the musical peers, but mostly for Ashley and Wynonna.”

–Zacharia Malachi

“It is a terrible day when one of your heroes passes away. I’m so heartbroken to hear about the passing of Naomi Judd. Being from Kentucky, The Judds were a staple in our house. One of the first songs I learned to play and sing when I first started in music was  “Mama He’s Crazy”.  She and Wynonna were major inspirations in my music and life. She will be dearly missed.”

–Dallas Remington

“Growing up and having a very close mother/daughter relationship with my own Mom and sharing a love for music with her, we always felt a deep connection to The Judds and their catalog of music. Every song so relatable and heartfelt. Their harmonies were spot-on, and were a big reason I found it easier to learn harmony parts when I started to sing. Darin and I are so saddened to learn of the passing of Naomi Judd today. We are grateful that we watched her final performance on the CMT Awards just a few weeks ago. Thank you, Naomi, for leaving a mark on the music world and in our hearts. We send many thoughts and prayers to Wynonna, Ashley and their entire family.”

-Darin and Brooke Aldridge

“So sorry and heartbroken to hear about the passing of Naomi Judd. She and Wynonna’s music have influenced countless artists including me. When I was little, my Mom and I would pretend that we were The Judds. We even covered “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain” at one of my vocal recitals and I still perform that song today. My prayers are with Wynonna, Ashley, Larry, and the entire family and for everyone who was a part of The Judds journey. Their music will always be legendary and those magic family harmonies will continue to live on. God Bless and love.”

–Taylon Hope

“I am heartbroken today over the passing of Naomi Judd. She was my greatest influence in country music and she was my friend. Her kindness, generosity and encouragement meant more to me than she could have ever known and all the ways she influenced me and millions of others around the world will never be forgotten. I truly loved her.“

–Jacy Dawn Valeras co-host of Country Music Success Stories

“Having the chance to interview Naomi Judd at her home for our very first episode of Country Music Success Stories was one of the absolute highlights of my career. She was welcoming, she was kind, and she was wide open about a life that took her from a “stinkin’ mountaintop in Kentucky” to superstardom worldwide. Through it all, she remained so grateful for the chance to sing, write and connect with an audience that adored her. No one can replace Miss Naomi.“

–Candy O’ Terry co-host of Country Music Success Stories

“Naomi Judd has always been and will be one of the greatest icons of Country Music. Her humble style with overtones of faith has inspired me as I grew up and traveled the world. I am sad to hear of her passing and will never forget her as a wonderful human being.”

–Donovan Chapman

“The Judds music was a huge inspiration to me growing up. With family from Eastern Kentucky, I always felt connected to them. Naomi was everyone’s mom. She was unapologetically herself and I will keep that in my soul forever as I navigate my journey in country music.”

–Emily Miller

“Growing up in the 90s, the Judd’s music was inescapable. The emotion they were able to convey through airtight harmonies remains unparalleled. They made us all “feel” the words they were singing in ways I aspire to every time I step into a vocal booth. I’m heartbroken to hear of Naomi’s passing. Country music lost a legend today.”

–Hayden Joseph

“I am absolutely heartbroken to learn about the devastating loss of Naomi Judd. She was a complete legend and one of the biggest female trailblazers for all of us female country artists. I remember so well singing “Grandpa” at so many of my shows when I was young. I have always loved the storytelling behind their music and the iconic sound that went into it. “Why Not Me” will forever be one of my favorite songs and I will always look back to Naomi’s legacy and music for inspiration. She will forever live on through her music and the story she left behind.”

–Dani-elle Kleha

“As a big fan of the soulful Country sound, I was always drawn to the Judds music. I have been lucky to spend time with Wynonna and Catctus, who have always been very kind to me. My condolences to the family for their loss.”

–Jackson Nance

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Mrs. Naomi Judd. Such a great talent and a beautiful person. This is a great loss to country music. May God help heal the hearts of her family and friends.”–Jason Brownie

“It is a sad day for country music, but Naomi’s memory will live on forever in her songs. I still remember the first time I heard “Love Can Build A Bridge”. The message is as relevant today as ever, and even though she’s gone, her music will continue to inspire young songwriters everywhere.”

–Bryan Ruby

“So sad at the loss of my friend and music legend Naomi Judd. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends. As a fellow Kentuckian, my hats off in honor of the legacy of music she shared with the world and the doors she opened for so many others like me.”

-Billy Ray Cyrus

“Say it isn’t so. Cannot believe my girlfriend and longtime buddy Naomi is gone. We’ve known each other for years and she always treated me with class, grace and pure kindness. I’m going to miss her so much.”

-Tanya Tucker 

“I am shocked and saddened along with the rest of our country music community over the passing of Naomi Judd. I’ll never forget meeting her for the first time when she was a contestant on a TV game show I was hosting. I asked her to identify herself for the audience and she said, “My name is Naomi Judd and I am a nurse from Franklin, Tennessee. My daughter and I sing together, and someday we hope to make it in country music.” I was looking so forward to recalling that moment with her on Sunday when she and Wynonna were to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. She was one of a kind and will certainly be missed.”

-Bill Anderson 

“Our prayers go out to Naomi’s husband, daughters, family, friends, and fans. We, like everyone who knew her, are devastated by the news of her passing. We will always hold near and dear the memories of touring with The Judds and visiting with Naomi backstage at so many events through the years. May you Rest In Peace, Naomi.”

-David and Howard Bellamy 

“I remember how kind and nice Naomi was when we worked together. She was a good person with a generous spirit toward everyone she met. I’m keeping her family in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.”

-Gene Watson

“I really don’t have the words right now. Naomi meant so much to me. She took me under her wing and taught me so much. She will forever be my Country Fairy Godmother. I am so grateful for her friendship.”

-Meghan Linsey

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend and fellow Kentuckian, Naomi Judd. Naomi was always so special to be with. She accomplished so much and she will be missed and loved forever. My prayers go out to Naomi and her family.”

Crystal Gayle

“We just heard the devastating news that Naomi Judd has gone home. The Judds are being inducted into The Country Music Hall of Fame tomorrow. This is so very sad. We have been friends for decades and have worked hundreds of shows together. Our prayers for WY and Ashley and for all that loved her… which includes the four of us!”

The Oak Ridge Boys

“Such a sad day in country music with the loss of Naomi Judd. Her family is in my prayers.”

Johnny Lee

“Sunday was slated to be a day of celebration with the medallion ceremony for the Judds being officially welcomed into the Country Music Hall of Fame…But sadly, the Country Music Community and millions of fans around the world are mourning the loss of Naomi Judd, the matriarch of the country music duo the Judds. Our condolences go out to Wynonna, Ashley & Naomi’s husband of 32 years, Larry Strickland.”

Dallas Wayne, Singer/Songwriter, and SiriusXM ‘Willie’s Roadhouse’ Host

“I have so many memories with Naomi Judd – from our early years on stage around the country, awards shows to recent neighborly encounters at church or around our town of Franklin. I am speechless and so sad! My prayers go out to Wynonna, Ashley, and the rest of her family. God bless you and comfort you all.”

Lee Greenwood

“So heartbroken to hear of the passing of the one and only Naomi Judd. A true living legend of country music sadly will be missed. Rest In Peace Naomi Judd. Prayers for the family.”

Shane Owens

“The first time I ever met Naomi, I was 14 years old and we were performing on the Ralph Emery Show. Ralph lovingly called them the “Soap Sisters” since Naomi made her own lye soap. She was so sweet and kind and remained so every time I was ever with her through the years. She wrote me the most precious note recently about my commercial and how much she loved my music. I will cherish it forever. I’m so deeply saddened by this loss. We were so looking forward to The Judds’ induction into the CMA Hall of Fame. The music business will never be the same. Please join us in prayer for her family’s comfort during this time.”

Kelly Lang

“It’s a sad day to hear about Naomi Judd, her creative and clever creation of The Judds image made a huge impact in country music. She will be missed greatly.“

Janie Fricke

“So sorry to hear of the loss of a great lady in country music. Naomi was not only an amazing singer/songwriter but an author, actress, and philanthropist. She will be greatly missed. Country music is better off because she was part of it… Godspeed Naomi!

Heath Wright / Ricochet

“Another great musical voice – Naomi Judd – has gone silent and left for home. I will never forget introducing her along with Wynonna on their very first network tv show appearance. I knew after introducing them that they were destined for greatness. My prayers are with her family, friends, and fans at this very sad time.”

– TG Sheppard

“Half of one country music’s all-time favorite duos has left us. Prayers to Wy and family.”

Joey Canyon

“The Judds were the superstars of their time, and I knew them from the beginning when I played piano for Naomi and Wynonna on the “Ralph Emery Morning Show.” Back then Ralph called them The Soap Sisters because Naomi made homemade lye soap and brought it to the show as gifts for us all. I knew from the beginning they were destined for greatness. I am in shock to hear of Naomi’s passing on the eve of their induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame–the moment when their greatness would forever be acknowledged in the history books. To me, The Judds were always a closing act. I’m just so sorry that Naomi made the decision to bring the curtain down early. My prayers go out to her family, friends, and fans.”

Tim Atwood

“Naomi Judd was a dear friend and awesome talent. She was always so sweet and kind to me. I knew her well and did dozens of shows with The Judds. They have touched millions with their music. Sheila and my hearts are broken. Please pray for the Judd Family, fans, and friends. Rest in peace, sweet sister. I love you!”

T. Graham Brown

“Sad to hear the passing of Naomi Judd. Have a huge amount of respect for her work in country music and sending my condolences to her family and friends.”

Ian Flanigan

“I am at a loss for words hearing about the passing of Naomi Judd…. She was a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice. ‘Grandpa’ is and always will be my favorite song by the Judds. Everyone, please keep her family and close friends in your prayers during this time.” – Makenzie Phipps

“Naomi was a lovely person and this is a tragic loss. Our profound sympathy goes to Wynona and Ashley.”

Lacy J. Dalton

“I am saddened to hear of the loss of fellow Kentuckian and legend Naomi Judd. Their music traces back to my childhood when mom would sing their songs to us. Their sound was iconic and I remember so many of their hits. Naomi will forever be remembered. Prayers to Wy and Ashley + family.”

JD Shelburne

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Written by tazz

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