Wynonna and Ashley Judd paid tribute to their late mother Naomi Judd on Sunday night at the Country Music Hall of Fame inauguration ceremony, just one day after her death.
The sisters broke down in tears on stage at the awards ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee, when The Judds, Naomi and Wynonna’s mother-daughter musical act was officially added to the pantheon of musical greats. “My mother loved you so much and I’m sorry she could not go on until today,” Ashley tearfully confided to the audience. “Your respect for her and your respect for her really penetrated her heart, and it was your devotion. For her that has kept her going for the last few years.” Wynonna also joked that she had not prepared a speech for the big night because she “assumed Mom would speak it all.”
On Sunday, the couple announced that they had lost their mother at the age of 76 due to “mental illness”. In a statement after her death, they wrote: “We are crushed. We navigate in deep grief and know that when we loved her, she was loved by her audience. We are in unknown territory.”
Naomi was very open about her struggles with severe depression and anxiety before her passing. In 2016, she said in an interview about Good morning America that her mental health struggles had left her at home for years, a situation that had only gotten worse after her and Wynonna’s decision to stop touring as The Judds in 2011. “[Fans] see me in the rhinestone, you know, with glitter in my hair, it really is who I am, ”she told the host Robin Roberts back then. “But then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks, and not get out of my pajamas and not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad. When I came from the trip, I went into this deep, dark, absolutely scary hole and I could not get out. I spent two years on my couch. “
That year, Naomi also wrote a book about her experience called River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, and revealed that she had found treatment for her anxiety and depression with medication and electroshock therapy. She also noted that she decided to publish her diagnosis in the hope that she could show people that mental illness “is not a character defect, it is a smelly illness.”
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