Naomi Judd, the Kentucky-born singer who formed the Grammy-winning duo The Judds with her daughter Winona, has passed away, and she was also the mother of actor Ashley Judd. She was 76 years old.
Judd’s daughters announced her death in a statement on Saturday, a day before Judd was introduced to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“Today we sisters witnessed a tragedy,” the statement said. “We have lost our beautiful mother to a mental illness.
“It broke us. We are dealing with a deep heartbreak and know that just as we loved her, her fans loved her. We are in uncharted territory.”
The statement did not go into details.
The Gods just announced a tour of the ring starting in the fall, their first in over a decade. They made a comeback at award shows when they performed at the CMT Music Awards earlier this month.
“I was honored to see love build a bridge just a few weeks ago,” singer Maren Morris posted on Twitter on Saturday.
“This is heartbreaking news,” singer Travis Treat wrote, noting that he’s worked with Judd multiple times on screen and in performance. “Naomi Judd was one of the sweetest people I’ve ever known.”
The mother-daughter couple has recorded 14 songs in a career spanning nearly three decades. After rising to the top of country music, they suffered a coup in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi Judd with hepatitis.
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 Rain in 1986 and Grandpa in 1986.
Born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky, Naomi was working as a nurse when she and Winona began singing professionally together. Their unique harmony and elements of vocal, bluegrass and blues music made them stand out in the genre.
“We had a stamp of authenticity on what we were trying to do,” Naomi Judd told the Associated Press after the announcement of Gods’ induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The Judds released six studio albums and an EP between 1984 and 1991 and won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music. They have won five Grammy Awards for songs like Why Not Me and Give A Little Love.
The judges sang about the family, the belief in marriage, and the virtue of fidelity. Since Naomi was young in appearance, the two were confused as two sisters.
Ashley Judd is known for films including Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy and Heat.
Naomi Judd is also survived by her husband, Larry Strickland, who was a backing singer for Elvis Presley.