Grammy Award-winning country singer Naomi Judd died earlier today at the age of 76 outside of Nashville, Tennessee. The Kentucky-born musician’s daughters, fellow singer Wynonna and actress Ashley Judd, announced her death this morning in a statement.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” the statement said. “We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
Naomi’s husband of 32 years, fellow singer Larry Strickland, also released a statement regarding her death. He said that no further details about would be released, and also asked for privacy as the family grieves.
Naomi and Wynonna, who performed under the country music duo name of The Judds, were scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame tomorrow. They had also just announced an arena tour that was scheduled to begin in the fall, which would have been their first tour together in over a decade. They also made a return to awards shows when they performed at the CMT Music Awards earlier this month.
Several other country musicians also paid tribute to Naomi on social media following her family’s announcements. “Honored to have witnessed ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ just a few short weeks ago,” singer Maren Morris posted on Twitter today.
“This is heartbreaking news! Naomi Judd was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known,” singer Travis Tritt also posted on Twitter. He added that he had worked with Naomi several times on screen and during performances.
The mother-daughter performers secured 14 No. 1 songs in their career that spanned nearly three decades. The Judds’ hits included ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ in 1990,’Mama He’s Crazy’ in 1984, ‘Why Not Me’ in 1984,’Turn It Loose’ in 1988, ‘Girls Night Out’ in 1985, ‘Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain’ in 1986 and ‘Grandpa’ in 1986.
After rising to the top of country music, the mother-daughter decided to stop performing together in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi with hepatitis. Wynonna then continued singing in a solo career.
Born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky, Naomi was working as a nurse in Nashville when she and Wynonna started singing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, mixed with elements of acoustic music, bluegrass and blues, made them stand out in the genre at the time.
“We had a such a stamp of originality on what we were trying to do,” Naomi said after it was announced that they would be joining the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Judds, who sang about family, the belief in marriage and the virtue of fidelity, released six studio albums and an EP between 1984 and 1991. They won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven awards from the Academy of Country Music. They earned a total of five Grammy Awards together on hits like ‘Why Not Me’ and ‘Give A Little Love.’