The Judds Biography
If it's possible to make friends with ten million people, then that's just what The Judds did. This mother/daughter duo celebrated a career like no other. Adored by fans and admired by peers, these Cinderellas from Kentucky helped reshape the sound and image of American popular music.
Wynonna and Naomi's story begins long before the number ones. Both were born in Ashland, Kentucky. Naomi became pregnant, married her high school sweetheart and gave birth to Wynonna all before her high school graduation. In 1968, the family left the deeply-rooted life they'd known in Kentucky and moved to California, where Naomi gave birth to a second daughter, Ashley. Wynonna was seven, and Ashley only three, when Naomi divorced. They moved from place to place but by 1976 were settled back in Kentucky, living in a small house on a mountaintop with no telephone or television. Naomi recalls, "I wanted my daughters to be close to our family and our heritage. I wanted them to learn where they came from and to be free to develop their imaginations and talents." They did.
Wynonna learned to play the guitar and sing. Naomi: "I gave her the guitar to give her something to do. We started singing together for homemade entertainment. I never thought about fame or awards or anything of the sort. We were just trying to get through one day at a time." Times were tough, money and tempers short, but in music Wynonna and Naomi found harmony.
In 1979, the girls moved to Nashville to pursue their newfound dream, and Naomi wasted little time in shopping the tapes they'd made on their K-Mart recorder. "We were looking for a producer who could develop the unique sound that we had in our hearts and our minds," Naomi explains. "We were determined to maintain the integrity of our music. We needed someone who could hear that our voices were the main instruments."
They found producer Brent Maher, the man they were looking for, by coincidence: Naomi, who was working as a nurse, treated his daughter after a car accident.
On March 2, 1983, Wynonna and Naomi were granted an appointment at RCA Records. Their meeting was to be an unprecedented live audition for the label's executives. Within forty-five minutes, The Judds were RCA recording artists.
Success came almost immediately. Their first project, The Judds, was released in 1984. They won the CMA's "Horizon Award" (visit CMA World for more fun country music memories!) and then a Grammy. By the close of 1985, The Judds had two platinum albums, a gold album and six number one singles. They were on a skyrocket to stardom.
Once The Judds hit the top of the charts, they stayed there. These two small-town girls became one of the most celebrated success stories in country music, selling more than twenty million records and winning over sixty industry awards including five Grammies, nine CMA's and eight Billboard music awards. By 1989, they were one of the top-grossing touring acts in America, selling more concert tickets that year than everyone but The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones.
With all-American appeal, The Judds blurred the line between what was country and what was popular, because The Judds were both country and popular. A 1985 Newsweek article observed, "The Judds touch women's hearts: they're a middle-America fantasy come to life, a which-one-is-the-mother? pair right out of a TV commercial." Wynonna: "Mom and I sort of felt like the poster children for all the dreamers. We were the two girls from Ashland who weren't afraid to try." Indeed, The Judds were the most successful mother- daughter team in music history. Even so, their appeal was never based on novelty or celebrity but rather on the strength of their music. The Washington Post in 1986 said, "The Judds sound is seamless, flowing harmonies...in a warm tapestry of acoustic instrumentation. Throughout, the rich, liquid vocals of daughter Wynonna are marvelously unaffected, her sultry stylings casually touching on blues, jazz, and rock. It is both lusciously melodic and indivisibly pop in the most natural way." In the wani
ng days of the "Urban Cowboy" craze, The Judds brought a new, fresh sound to Nashville.
Throughout the 80s, it looked as if there was no end to success for this dynamic duo. But in October of 1990, Naomi learned she had contracted Hepatitis C. The debilitating illness left her no choice: after a lifetime of dreams and eight years at the top, Naomi would have to retire.
The Judds Farewell Tour began February of 1991 and stopped in 116 cities across North America. The tour grossed over $21,000,000 and The Judds were named the top grossing concert act of 1991. The tour broke records but it broke hearts too, as the girls said a tearful goodbye to the loyal fans who had loved and supported them for nearly a decade. On December 4, 1991, The Judds performed their final concert. The sell-out crowd and over six million pay-per-view fans watched as Wynonna and Naomi took their final bows. It was the end of an era.
Wynonna, now a mother of two, continues to record and tour. As a solo artist she has sold more than nine million records, and celebrated fourteen top ten hits. She has become a superstar in her own right. The Los Angeles Times proclaimed, "Wynonna may just be the most complete and gifted female singer of her generation, and we're not just talking country music."
Naomi, now in remission, serves as a spokesperson for the American Liver Foundation. She's a best-selling author, radio talk show host and a highly sought-after motivational speaker, traveling the country sharing her message of healing. A gifted songwriter, Naomi has penned four number one hits and has received two BMI million play awards and a Grammy.
Today, it is a "New Day Dawning"! A "new and improved" Naomi and Wynonna came together for a special New Year's Eve concert at the America West Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. The "Big Bang Boogie" of the century was held on Friday, December 31, 1999 with 11,000 of our closest "family of friends!" The America West Arena was glowing with Judds pen lights and balloons, confetti and fireworks at the dawn of the new millennium! Fans at the concert were welcomed with "Love Can Build a Bridge" and "Girls Night Out" as well as "I Saw The Light" and "No One Else on Earth" and "Freedom." With Ashley as the emcee, the evening was a brilliant trilogy of Judd women! Start to finish, it was the party of the century!
The Judds recently wrapped their amazing "Power to Change Tour" with dates from Denver to Lexington and Honolulu to Virigina Beach...and every place in between. They performed to over 300,000 people in some thirty dates and set the music world on fire once again! Pollstar named the tour among its Top 30 in their mid-year countdown of all tours. Only the George Strait and Dixie Chicks tour were higher on the list for country acts.
It was Wynonna's first tour with her mother since 1991 on Feb. 4 in Denver. The tour combined the legacy and tradition of The Judds and the fire and sassiness of Miss Wy!
The Judds disbanded after doctors diagnosed Naomi with hepatitis C. They're billing the reunion as the "Power to Change Tour", a reference to Wynonna's evolution as a solo artist and single mother and Naomi's move from music into other fields.
"We're doing Grandpa the other day," Wynonna says, "and my kids are running around on the stage. I look at my mother and say, 'Wait, I'm the single working mother on the road this time. How weird is that?'"
"I've really changed in the last eight years," says Naomi, 53, who as you know hosted a weekly syndicated radio show from 1999-2000 and starred with Andy Griffith and Gerald McRaney in the hit TV movie, "A Holiday Romance", on CBS last fall. Her recent movie, "Family Tree," can also be found at your favorite video store. It was among the Top Ten most watched shows of the week! "I can't imagine myself getting back on the bus ad infinitum. I'm free of the hepatitis C virus - they haven't been able to find it in my body for two years now - but I'm not going to feel free until all of my fellow sufferers are free. My grand passion is still trying to find a cure."
As reported in USA Today, Naomi has made some changes to prepare for the tour. She recently had laser surgery to correct her nearsightedness, "so I can see all the way to the back of the arena. I've got my hair dyed a brighter shade of red." The girls have always been perceived strongly as individuals but have always found familiar strength as The Judds too!
There were Kmart in-store appearances along the way and, of course, there was new music from The Judds, a special collection that was packaged with the initial shipment of Wynonna's album, "New Day Dawning." Some of the new show-stoppers included "Stuck in Love" (Another SMASH hit for The Judds) and "Big Bang Boogie," a tune written by Naomi.
As for the new album, Wynonna co-produced the tracks with Nashville songwriter Gary Nicholson. She describes the sound as coming "from our gut level that we try to get down to. There's a real raunchy-sounding guitar, but then you hear a traditional fiddle. I don't know how people are going to expect us to be, but I think they're going to be surprised by what I've taken. I've taken it and said, 'OK, this is a Judd heading into the future.' There's comfort in tradition when you listen to us, but there's a feeling of 'Wow, they're hip because they're modern and they're keeping up with the times.'" The two have certainly experience a celebrated road of past, present and future.
Tour sponsor Kmart recently solicited written stories of women's personal transformations for an awards program which coincided with the tour. Finalists in the program were selected by Ladies' Home Journal and The Judds. The 10 amazing women were recognized in a weekend-long celebration of personal spirit in Nashville from June 9th-June 11th. Nearly 4000 women submitted essays to Ladies Home Journal about their own life-changing transformations. The winners have conquered some virtually insurmountable challenges including drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, abusive relationships, divorce and devastating diseases. They attended a private dinner with The Judds and also enjoyed a $5,000 shopping spree at Big Kmart in Franklin. On June 10th, the winners were also saluted at The Judds Power to Change concert in Nashville.
"This program is a way for Wynonna and I to hang out with people who are yearning to go to a higher level," Naomi says. "I love to hear people's stories. People listen to The Judds, and we listen to them, whether it's people listening to our music, coming to see one of my speaking engagements, reading one of the books that I write or going to see Ashley's movies. But we get inspired by them." Love can build a bridge to the new millennium.
Through all the trials and triumphs, Wynonna and Naomi have maintained their unique and special bond. The phenomenal success they shared as The Judds helped redefine an industry and set the standard by which future superstars would be measured. Together or apart, their legacy lives on in more than just music.
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Spritually Uplifting!!! | Reviewer: Shavhani Radzilani | 2/18/11
Last night, 17 February 2011 was an amazing night for me. I am not a TV person unless it is sport and music. I watched an SABC 3 repeat of Oprah and was for the 1st time in my life intriduced to the singing Judds. I only knew Ashley from movies because she has this distant resemblence to Charlize Theron. But listening to the story of Miss Wy was amazing, touched me so deeply that I found myself wetting my eyes. Had to pray after that, was spritually uplifted too, better than after attending a church service wherein sometimes one falls asleep. I am going to buy their music as from today. This is the second time someone touched right deep in me, the 1st was my meeting with Nelson Mandela while I was at varsity (University of the North, RSA). I will remember that experience for the rest of my life. Keep up the good work ladies, God Bless!
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