Naomi Judd: Country music stars react to Grammy-winning singer’s death at 76

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The country music world is mourning the loss of one of its beloved performers.

Naomi Judd, whose family harmonies with daughter Wynonna made them Grammy-winning country stars The Judds, has died aged 76. His daughters, Wynonna and Ashley, announced his death Saturday in a statement provided to The Associated Press.

“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy,” the statement read. “We have lost our beautiful mother to mental illness. We are broken. We navigate deep grief and know that, as we loved her, she was loved by her audience. We are in uncharted territory.”

The matriarch died near Nashville, according to a statement from husband and fellow singer Larry Strickland. He said no further details of his death would be released and asked for confidentiality as the family mourned.

NAOMI JUDD, GRAMMY ARTIST, DEAD AT 76

“We have lost our beautiful mother to mental illness,” Naomi Judd’s daughters wrote on Saturday.
(Stephen Cohen/Getty Images)

Tributes to the star immediately poured in on social media following the announcement.

“Country music has lost a true legend,” Carrie Underwood tweeted. “Sing along with the Naomi Angels!!! We’re all sending prayers for the Judd family today…”

“So sad to hear of the passing of #NaomiJudd today,” wrote John Rich. “I had the great honor of knowing her, and she was without a doubt one of the most iconic artists to ever make country music. Thinking of my good friend @Wynonna right now, that’s a very difficult day for her and the family. # The Judds.”

“This is heartbreaking news!” shared Travis Tritt. “Naomi Judd was one of the sweetest people I know. I had the honor of working with her in movies and many musical events. My deepest condolences go out to her family.”

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“Sending our love and prayers to Wynonna and Ashley and the entire Judd family,” Tim McGraw tweeted. “We mourn with you and so many others.”

“I have so many memories with Naomi Judd – from our early years on stage across the country, from award shows to recent neighbor get-togethers at church or in our town of Franklin,” Lee Greenwood wrote. “I am speechless and so sad! My prayers go out to Wynonna, Ashley and the rest of her family. God bless you.”

“So sad at the loss of my friend and music legend @TheNaomiJudd,” Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted. “My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends. As a fellow Kentucky, I take my hat off to honor the musical legacy she shared with the world and the doors she opened. open to so many others like me.”

“Naomi Judd – so sad to hear this news,” Cole Swindell wrote. “Thinking of all his family and friends. Tough day for country music.”

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“Rest in peace, Naomi Judd,” Maren Morris tweeted. “Honored to have witnessed ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ just a few weeks ago.”

“I’m just heartbroken at the loss of @TheNaomiJudd,” Loretta Lynn shared. “My colleague from Kentucky, my friend and an amazing singer. There are no words. Please pray for Wynonna, Ashley, Larry and their grandchildren. I am heartbroken. send all my love.”

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of my friend and fellow Kentucky, Naomi Judd,” Crystal Gale tweeted. “It was always so special to be with Naomi. She accomplished so much and we will miss and love her forever. My prayers go out to Naomi and her family.”

The Country Music Hall of Fame will continue with an induction ceremony scheduled for The Judds Sunday.

NAOMI JUDD, GONE AT 76, WRITTEN ABOUT HER MENTAL ILLNESS IN A RECENT BOOK

“Naomi overcame incredible adversity on her way to a prominent place in music history. Her triumphant life story overshadows today’s tragic news,” said the Hall of Fame CEO, Kyle Young, in a statement. “Her family has requested that we continue with the official induction into the Judds Hall of Fame on Sunday. We will do so with heavy hearts and balanced minds. The music of Naomi and her daughter Wynonna will endure.”

They had also just announced an arena tour that would begin in the fall, their first tour together in over a decade.

The mother-daughter performers scored 14 No. 1 songs during a career that spanned nearly three decades. The red-haired duo combined the traditional Appalachian sounds of bluegrass with polished pop styles, scoring hit after hit in the 1980s. Wynonna led the duo with her powerful vocals, while Naomi provided harmonies and elegant looks on the scene.

They also made a return to award shows when they performed at the CMT Music Awards earlier this month.

WYNONNA JUDD RECALLS ‘BREAKTHROUGH’ IN MARCH THAT LEADED HER TO RESPOND TO ANXIETY: ‘I AM A WORK IN PROGRESS’

Wynonna Judd, left, and Naomi Judd attend the 2022 CMT Music Awards.
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Wynonna Judd, left, and Naomi Judd attend the 2022 CMT Music Awards.
(Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT)

After rising to the top of country music, they called it quits in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Judd with hepatitis C. Wynonna continued his solo career.

The Judds’ hits include “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’ To the rhythm of the rain” in 1986 and “Grandfather” in 1986.

Born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky, the singer was working as a single mother and nurse in Nashville when she and Wynonna began performing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, combined with elements of acoustic, bluegrass and blues music, set them apart in the genre at the time.

In an interview with the AP in March, Judd said she was already deep in preparation for the upcoming tour and was looking forward to Hall of Fame induction.

ASHLEY JUDD WALKS AGAIN AFTER HIS ACCIDENT IN CONGO WHICH KNOCKED HER LEG: ‘SHE’S A NEW LEG’

Left to right: Ashley Judd, Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena, CA.

Left to right: Ashley Judd, Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd at the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena, CA.
(Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc.)

“Having all the amazing opportunities I’ve had, remembering all of that makes me very humbled, and I just want to enjoy the moment,” Judd said.

Wynonna remarked that, throughout their lives, music kept them together.

“Music is the bridge between mom and me, and it unites us,” she told the AP. “Even in difficult times.”

The Judds released six studio albums and one EP between 1984 and 1991 and won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music. They won a total of five Grammy Awards together on hits like “Why Not Me” and “Give A Little Love,” and Naomi won a sixth Grammy for writing “Love Can Build a Bridge.”

COUNTRY MUSIC STAR NAOMI JUDD ‘SHINED A LIGHT INTO DARK CORNERS’ ABOUT DEPRESSION

Naomi Judd and her husband Larry Strickland pose for a portrait in 2005.

Naomi Judd and her husband Larry Strickland pose for a portrait in 2005.
(Harry Langdon/Getty Images)

The Judds also played at the 1994 Super Bowl halftime show with Travis Tritt, Clint Black and Tanya Tucker.

The Judds sang about family, the belief in marriage, and the virtue of faithfulness. Because Judd looked so young, the two were mistaken for sisters early in their careers. She was also known to prefer flashy stage outfits, full of sparkles and rhinestones, to casual boots and cowboy-style clothing.

They first gained attention singing on Ralph Emery’s morning show in the early 1980s, where the host named them the “Soap Sisters” because Judd said she made her own soap.

After the success of “Mama He’s Crazy”, they won the Horizon Award at the 1984 CMA Awards. Judd began his speech by saying “Slap the dog and spit in the fire!”

KENNY ROGERS’ NEPHEW REMEMBERS GROWING UP WITH ‘THE PLAYER’: I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HIM AGAIN’

Naomi Judd, left, and Wynonna Judd talk onstage for the debut of the new show, "The Judds: dream hunters," at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on August 8, 2018 in Nashville.

Naomi Judd, left, and Wynonna Judd speak onstage for the new exhibit premiere, “The Judds: Dream Chasers,” at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on August 8, 2018 in Nashville.
(Rick Diamond/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)

Judd was open about her health issues, including severe depression and anxiety. In her memoir, “River of Time,” she described her diagnosis of hepatitis C, which she said she unknowingly contracted while she was a nurse. She said that in 1995 her doctors told her she was completely free of the virus.

In the memoir, she described feeling like she had lost her identity when she returned home from a reunion tour in 2010, isolating herself at home and dealing with crippling panic attacks. She also said she was traumatized by childhood sexual abuse. She was admitted to a psychiatric ward of a hospital and spent time in an outpatient treatment program.

His daughter Ashley Judd is an actress and humanitarian known for her roles in films such as ‘Kiss the Girls’, ‘Double Jeopardy’ and ‘Heat’.

Strickland, who was a backup singer for Elvis Presley, was married to the late hitmaker for 32 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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