Grammy-winning singer Naomi Judd dies at 76


Naomi Judd, the Kentucky-born singer of Grammy-winning duo The Judds and mother of Wynonna and Ashley Judd, has died. She was 76 years old.

The girls announced his death on Saturday in a statement provided to The Associated Press.

“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to mental illness,” the statement read.

“We are devastated. We navigate deep grief and know that, as we loved her, she was loved by her audience. We are in uncharted territory.” The statement did not give further details.

The Judds, including Naomi and Wynonna, were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame Sunday, and they had just announced an arena tour that would begin in the fall, their first tour together in over a decade. They also made a return to award shows when they performed at the CMT Music Awards earlier this month.

“Honored to have witnessed love can build a bridge just a few weeks ago,” singer Maren Morris posted on Twitter on Saturday.

“This is heartbreaking news! Naomi Judd was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known,” singer Travis Tritt posted on Twitter, noting that he had worked with Judd on several occasions at the screen and during performances.

The mother-daughter performers scored 14 No. 1 songs during a career that spanned nearly three decades. After reaching the peak of country music, they called it quits in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi Judd with hepatitis. Wynonna pursued a solo career.

The successes of the Judds included love can build a bridge in 1990, Mom he’s crazy in 1984, Why not me in 1984, Detach yourself in 1988, Girls’ night in 1985, Rockin’ with the rhythm of the rain in 1986 and grandfather in 1986.

Judd, center, is shown with his daughters Ashley, left, and Wynonna in New York in October 2003. Judd and Wynonna, who performed as Judds, scored 14 No. 1 songs during a career that spanned nearly three decades. (Anthony Savignano/Reuters)

Born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Ky., Naomi was working as a nurse in Nashville when she and Wynonna started singing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, combined with elements of acoustic, bluegrass and blues music, set them apart in the genre at the time.

“We had such a stamp of originality in what we were trying to do,” Naomi Judd told The Associated Press after news of their arrival to the Country Music Hall of Fame was announced.

The Judds released six studio albums and one EP between 1984 and 1991. They won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music. They won a total of five Grammy Awards together on hits such as Why not me and Give a little love.

Wynonna Judd, left, and Naomi Judd – seen in a 2011 photo taken in Nashville, Tennessee – have won multiple Grammy Awards making music together. (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

The Judds sang about family, the belief in marriage, and the virtue of faithfulness. Because Naomi looked so young, the two were mistaken for sisters early in their careers.

They first gained attention singing on Ralph Emery’s morning show in the early 1980s, where the host named them the “Soap Sisters” because Naomi said she made her own soap.

After the success of Mom he’s crazythey won the Horizon Award at the 1984 CMA Awards. Naomi began her speech by saying, “Hit the dog and spit in the fire!”

His daughter Ashley Judd is an actress known for her roles in films such as Kiss the girls, Double jeopardy and Heat.

Naomi Judd is also survived by her husband and fellow singer, Larry Strickland, who was a backup singer for Elvis Presley.