“The show must go on” for Wynonna

The world gave more than a little love to Naomi Judd during the star-studded celebration of her life on Sunday.

Their daughters Ashley and Wynonna Judd and husband Larry Strickland gathered with the country music community at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee to commemorate the singing legend, who died by suicide in late April.

“Naomi Judd: A River of Time” aired commercial-free on CMT with performances by Ashley McBryde, Brad Paisley, Brandi Carlile, Carly Pearce, Emmylou Harris and Allison Russell, the Gaither Vocal Band, Jamey Johnson, Little Big Town and Wynonna.

Wynonna also announced that she will continue the 11-date national tour she had previously planned with her mother before her untimely death.

“After much thought, I have to do her the honor and do this tour. I’ll just have to,” she said. “Tonight, when we close, the show must go on, hard as it may be. And we’ll show up together, and you’ll carry me.”

Wynonna Judd looks on after singing during a tribute to her mother, country music star Naomi Judd, Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee.  Naomi Judd died on April 30th.  She was 76 years old.
Wynonna Judd looks on after singing as part of a tribute show dedicated to her mother, country music star Naomi Judd May 15 in Nashville, Tennessee. Naomi passed away on April 30th. She was 76 years old.

“It’s so strange and yet so natural to be in front [the fans], our chosen family for 38 years,” she added. “This little light of mine, I’ll let it shine.”

Judd, 57, sang an emotional rendition of Bette Midler’s “The Rose” alongside Carlile, 40. Eventually, Judd choked and stopped the song, asking for a repeat with too much fanfare.

“Tonight is a celebration, and at the same time I can’t put into words how devastated I am,” said Judd, who later sang songwriter Naomi’s Grammy-winning “Love Can Build a Bridge.” “I miss her so much.”

“Welcome to the mother church of country music. This is where mom wanted her public celebration to be,” Ashley Judd said, calling her mom an “everybody but utterly extraordinary” with a life like a “spectacular Technicolor dream.”

She “left country music better than she found it,” added the 54-year-old.

Last week, Ashley appeared on Good Morning America, where she revealed she was the one who found her mother dead at home from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A church choir and spectators sing "Love can build a bridge" along with Wynonna Judd during a tribute to country music star Naomi Judd at Ryman Auditorium.
A church choir and spectators join Wynonna Judd in singing “Love Can Build a Bridge” during a tribute to country music star Naomi Judd at the Ryman Auditorium.

Hosted by Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, other celebrities took to the stage to pay their respects including Bette Midler, Bono, Morgan Freeman, Oprah Winfrey, Reba McEntire, Reese Witherspoon and Salma Hayek.

Fans also flocked to say goodbye to Judd during a procession down Nashville’s Broadway.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis and live in New York City, you can call 1-888-NYC-WELL toll-free and confidential crisis advice. If you live outside the five counties, you can call the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to SuicidePreventionLifeline.org.

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