Grammy Award-winning country singer Naomi Judd died yesterday at the age of 76 outside of Nashville, Tennessee. The Kentucky-born musician’s daughters, fellow singer Wynonna and Emmy Award-nominated actress Ashley Judd, announced her death yesterday morning in a statement, NPR is reporting.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” the statement, which Ashley posted on Twitter, said. “We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
Naomi’s husband of 32 years, fellow singer Larry Strickland of the Palmetto State Quartet, also released a statement regarding her death. He said that no further details about would be released, and also asked for privacy as the family grieves.
Naomi and Wynonna, who performed under the country music duo name of The Judds, were scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame today. They had also just announced a final arena tour that was scheduled to begin in the fall, which would have been their first tour together in over a decade. They also made a return to awards shows when they performed at the CMT Music Awards earlier this month.
Several other country musicians also paid tribute to Naomi on social media following her family’s announcements. “Honored to have witnessed Love Can Build a Bridge just a few short weeks ago,” Maren Morris posted on Twitter yesterday.
“This is heartbreaking news! Naomi Judd was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known,” Travis Tritt also posted on Twitter. He added that he had worked with Naomi several times on screen and during performances.
“Country music lost a true legend … sing with the angels, Naomi!!! We’re all sending up prayers for the Judd family today,” Carrie Underwood wrote on Twitter.
“So sad at the loss of my friend,” Billy Ray Cyrus tweeted, alongside a photo of himself, Naomi and Randy Travis. “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.”
The mother-daughter performers secured 14 No. 1 songs in their career that spanned nearly three decades. The Judds’ hits included 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’ With the Rhythm of the Rain in 1986 and Grandpa in 1986.
After rising to the top of country music, the mother-daughter decided to stop performing together in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi with hepatitis. Wynonna then continued singing in a solo career.
Born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky, Naomi and her family later moved to Nashville in the late 1970s to start singing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, mixed with elements of acoustic music, bluegrass and blues, made them stand out in the genre at the time.
“We had a such a stamp of originality on what we were trying to do,” Naomi said after it was announced last year that they would be joining the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Judds, who sang about family, the belief in marriage and the virtue of fidelity, released six studio albums and an EP between 1984 and 1991. They won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven awards from the Academy of Country Music. They earned a total of five Grammy Awards together on hits like Why Not Me and Give A Little Love.