Wynonna Judd Has Complicated Feelings While Performing Without Mom Naomi
As Wynonna Judd was announcing a recreation of the Judds’ 1991 farewell concert, the country music legend took a moment to reflect on her relationship with her late mom Naomi. During the Wednesday press conference — which was held at Fox & Locke in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee — a reporter asked if Judd felt her “mom’s love” during her recent stint of Judds concerts. (The shows were originally booked for both Wynonna and Naomi before the latter died by suicide on April 30.) Instead of trumping up a safe, comforting answer, Judd stayed authentic and essentially explained: It’s complicated.
“I don’t feel that (love) on stage,” Judd revealed to a crowd of media and locals. “I feel my mother on stage and a lot of times it’s not appropriate, because when you’re grieving you go from hell to hallelujah really fast. There will be moments when I feel her going, ‘You have on too much makeup,’ or, ‘You need to lose weight,’ or, ‘You need to be…’ And then I realize, ‘no,’ and I talk back to her, because she’s my mom. That’s what we did.
She continued, “I’m on time now, so she can’t b— at me anymore about that. I’m on time. I’m chronically on time. I used to be late just to make her mad. Some things never change, do they? That was my way of controlling. I find myself still… I don’t think the relationship ever ends, just saying. Even though she’s gone, I don’t think it ends. I think I still talk to her, and I still say things and I’m like, ‘Why aren’t you here so I can argue with you or disagree about something?’
Later in the event, Judd opened up about weaving Naomi’s memory into the show. She noted she often audibly talks to her late mom while performing, giving Judds fans a glimpse at her grieving process.
“I talk about her in a way that people understand,” she noted. “They know my sign language, my short(hand). For instance, I’ll say stuff to her, and I look up a lot ’cause I talk to her a lot, and she’s on the stage. There are things that you’ll see during the show where you go, ‘That makes sense,’ and it’s been a really interesting deal to try to incorporate her, but to also live in the moment and look to the future. To visit the past, like a scrapbook, and say something to her like, ‘Why aren’t you here?’ And you can hear audience members gasp because they know I’m talking to her and I’m living my life in the public eye through this grief. So I’m talking to her and I’m saying things like, ‘I don’t understand why.’
“And so I’m just doing my thing and telling it like it is because what am I going to do? What else am I going to do?”
Judd will bring The Judds: The Final Tour to Murphy Center at Middle Tennessee State University on Thursday, for a special recreation performance called “The Judds: Love Is Alive – The Final Concert.” Tickets are available now via Ticketmaster with proceeds partially benefiting NAMI Tennessee (National Alliance on Mental Illness). The Judds tour will continue with more dates in 2023. Click here to see a full list of upcoming tour dates.