Wynonna Judd Takes the Stage for Stirring Three-Song Tribute at Mother Naomi’s Public Memorial Celebration

Wynonna Judd; Photo by Katie Kauss, Getty Images for CMT
Wynonna Judd; Photo by Katie Kauss, Getty Images for CMT
Wynonna Judd; Photo by Katie Kauss, Getty Images for CMT

Wynonna Judd honored her late mother Naomi Judd Sunday (May 15) during a CMT special honoring the country music star called “Naomi Judd: A River Of Time Celebration.”

The star-studded tribute to Judd took place at the “Mother Church,” Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and aired commercial free.

Judd’s oldest daughter performed three songs in honor of her mother, starting with “River of Time.” Judd’s performance was introduced by her younger sister, actress Ashley Judd.

“Tonight we remember [my mother] in song,” the younger Judd said introducing the performance. “And so for our first song, one she wrote about the tincture of time, is the one with whose voice I grew up, to me the GOAT, the Greatest Of All Time, please welcome my big sister, Wynonna.”

Wynonna then took the stage dressed in all black to deliver the tribute to her mother.

“How appropriate, the Mother Church,” Wynonna remarked as she began the performance.

I’m holding back a flood of tears / Just thinking ’bout those happy years / Like all the good times that are no more / My mama is gone, gone, gone forever more,” she sang on the first verse of the song, changing the lyric “my love” to “my mama.”

The oldest Judd daughter became visibly emotional at the conclusion of the song amid applause from the audience.

Wynonna was later joined by fellow country singer Brandi Carlile to perform a duet of Bette Midler’s song “The Rose.” Naomi Judd and Midler blended their voices on the song, which is often sung at funerals, during a performance together back in 1997.

Judd and Carlile’s duet was met with roaring applause. A camera shot following the conclusion of the performance panned over to Judd’s younger sister Ashley who smiled on.

The most emotional performance of the night, however, came when Wynonna performed she and her mother’s popular song, “Love Can Build A Bridge.”

The performance had the audience in attendance on their feet and singing along with Wynonna on the chorus. The performance also featured support from the Christ Church choir in Nashville, the church that Judd attended, Wynonna shared.

At the end of the performance, Wynonna received a standing ovation.

The special in honor of the late Naomi Judd also featured performances from Ashley McBryde, Brad Paisley, Carly Pearce, Little Big Town, and others.

During the special dedicated to her mother, Wynonna also revealed that she would continue her plans with heading out on The Final Tour, a 10-city arena tour that was announced prior to Naomi’s death, sharing that’s what her mother “would have wanted.”

Naomi Judd, who struggled with mental illness including depression for years, died by suicide on April 30. In a recent sit-down interview with Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts, Ashley Judd revealed that she was the person who’d found her mother and that she’d used a firearm.

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