Naomi Judd

Naomi Judd, a former nurse whose talent and tenacity carried her to legendary status in Country Music, died on April 30, 2022. She was 76. With her daughter Wynonna, The Judds won the ACM Award for Top Vocal Duet for seven consecutive years (1984 to 1990). Starting in 1984 with “Mama He’s Crazy,” they secured 14 No. 1 hits at Country radio. One of their many signature hits, “Why Not Me,” collected a 1984 trophy for ACM Song of the Year. Also, the duo cohosted the awards show twice, including the 25th anniversary show in 1990. While working at a hospital in Franklin, Tennessee, Naomi was taking care of producer Brent Maher’s daughter, Dianna, who had been in a car accident. Dianna attended the same high school as Wynonna and recognized Naomi from the duo’s performances on a local morning television show. After Dianna’s discharge, Naomi delivered a homemade demo tape to Maher’s office. Upon finally listening to it, Maher arranged for a live audition at RCA Records, which led to a recording contract. The dynamic between mother and daughter, which could be charming as well as challenging, made the Judds feel intimately familiar to Country fans. Their effortless harmony and acoustic arrangements appealed to traditionalists as well. Following a Hepatitis C diagnosis, Naomi announced her imminent departure from the group in 1990, adding a poignancy to the ballad “Love Can Build a Bridge” (which she co-wrote). In the decades to come, the Judds remained beloved, earning an ACM Pioneer Award in 2012 and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2022.