Naomi and Wynonna Judd Leave Their Mark on Country Music

The Judds To Be Inducted Into The Country Music Hall of Fame

One of the most successful duos in country music history, The Judds scored 20 Top 10 hits, including 14 number 1s, between 1984 and 1991. Mother Naomi and daughter Wynonna had an illustrious career that included five GRAMMY® Awards, nine CMA Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music, dominating vocal duo categories through the 1980s. It's no surprise to anyone that their contributions to country music have been recognized by the Country Music Hall of Fame in electing the duo to be inducted in the class of 2021, alongside the likes of the great Ray Charles, drummer Eddie Bayers and producer Pete Drake. 

Naomi says, "There are certain things in my life that have made me have a little bit of a sense of worth or approval, and this is just the ultimate pat on the back. I can't grasp it yet. To be in the same situation as my friends Dolly and Reba...I'm just thrilled." 

Wynonna adds, “This moment takes me back to 1983 when Mom and I first started. We would get in the car and visit multiple radio stations a day. It kind of feels like I’ve hit the lottery. It is so surreal. John Lennon always said that he just wanted to be remembered, and now we’re truly part of history, or I should say HERstory. What an honor.” 

Naomi continues, "There was a genre of us that came up around exactly the same time. We were heralded as the real face of country music. One of the things I remember reading was a review of our first album that said 'we were like crystal water flowing down a creek.' I was so encouraged. I mean we had started singing on a rural mountaintop in Kentucky. We didn't have a TV or a telephone or neighbors. We started singing together for homemade entertainment."

Naomi had financed the family’s move to Nashville by renting her restored 1957 Chevrolet — the same she’d drive from California to Tennessee — for use in “More American Graffiti” and by securing roles for her and Wynonna in the film. They made the move in 1979, and Naomi took a job as a nurse at Williamson County Medical Center. In early 1980, she and a 15-year-old Wynonna began appearing in the early mornings on WSM-TV’s “The Ralph Emery Show.” Emery dubbed them the “Soap Sisters” after Naomi told him she made her own lye soap. 

Their break came via a chance encounter with Nashville producer Brent Maher, whose teenage daughter — a schoolmate of Wynonna’s — was injured in a car accident. Maher had seen the Soap Sisters’ television performances and recognized Naomi, one of his daughter’s nurses. When Maher’s daughter was dismissed from the hospital, Naomi gave Maher a tape she and Wynonna had made on a portable tape recorder in their kitchen. Maher began working with the two singers and, following a live audition in the offices of RCA Records’ Nashville office, they secured a recording deal with RCA Records/Curb Records. The rest is history. 

The ladies in the Judd family have lived in the Franklin/Leiper's Fork area since around 1989. Naomi discloses, "When I was growing up in little Ashland, KY, I lived in a neighborhood where the houses were pretty close together and I was in everybody's homes and I knew everybody. Through the decades, I wasn't able to recreate that. But when I found Franklin, it felt like a community. Ashley lives up the hill from us on a farm. Wy is right over the hill behind me on a farm. So we have this community. And I love it here so much." 

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