NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Naomi Judd, the Kentucky-born singer of Grammy-winning duo The Judds and mother of Wynonna and Ashley Judd, has died. She was 76 years old.
The girls announced his death on Saturday in a statement provided to The Associated Press.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our mother-in-law to mental illness,” the statement read. “We are broken. We navigate deep mourning and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her audience. We are in uncharted territory. The statement did not give further details.
The Judds were due to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday and had just announced an arena tour that would begin in the fall, their first tour together in more than a decade. They also made a return to award shows when they performed at the CMT Music Awards earlier this month..
“Honored to have witnessed ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ just a few weeks ago,” singer Maren Morris posted on Twitter on Saturday.
“This is heartbreaking news! Naomi Judd was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known,” singer Travis Tritt said. posted on Twitternoting that he had worked with Judd many times on screen and in performances.
The mother-daughter performers scored 14 No. 1 songs during a career that spanned nearly three decades. After reaching the peak of country music, they called it quits in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi Judd with hepatitis. Wynonna continued her 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 “Papy” in 1986.
Born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky, Naomi was working as a nurse in Nashville when she and Wynonna began singing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, combined with elements of acoustic, bluegrass and blues music, set them apart in the genre at the time.
“We had such a stamp of originality about what we were trying to do,” Naomi Judd told the AP after it was announced they would be joining the Country Music Hall of Fame.
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’ve won 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 faithfulness. Because Naomi looked so young, the two were mistaken for sisters early in their careers.
They first gained attention singing on Ralph Emery’s morning show in the early 1980s, where the host named them the “Soap Sisters” because Naomi said she used to make your own soap.
After the success of “Mama He’s Crazy”, they won the Horizon Award at the 1984 CMA Awards. Naomi began her speech by saying “Slap the dog and spit in the fire!”
His daughter Ashley Judd is an actress known for her roles in films such as ‘Kiss the Girls’, ‘Double Jeopardy’ and ‘Heat’.
Naomi Judd is also survived by her husband and fellow singer, Larry Strickland, who was a backup singer for Elvis Presley.