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Naomi Judd’s life and legacy to be celebrated in televised memorial service

Judd, who died April 30, will be honored in the CMT special "Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration."

Naomi Judd's life and musical legacy will be honored in the upcoming CMT television memorial “Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration.”

The commercial-free special, which will be broadcast live from Nashville's famous Ryman Auditorium this Sunday, May 15, will pay tribute to the country music legend, who died at age 76 on April 30, just one day before she was scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as a member of The Judds.

Judd's daughters, Wynonna Judd, who was her singing partner in The Judds, and Hollywood actor Ashley Judd, will appear on the program alongside other guest stars from the world of entertainment.

Image: Naomi Judd
CMT said Naomi Judd will be honored in the special with "performances and special appearances from some of the biggest names in entertainment."Chris Pizzello / AP

“While we all continue to deeply mourn the loss of such a legendary artist, we are honored to commemorate her legacy alongside the country community, her friends, family and legions of fans across the world at the perfect venue: The Mother Church of Country Music," the program’s CMT producers said in a statement Wednesday.

"This special will celebrate her timeless voice, unforgettable spirit and the immense impact she left on our genre through the best form of healing we have — music,” the statement added.

On Friday, CMT announced that performers for the event will include Ashley McBryde, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Allison Russell, Little Big Town and The Gaithers.

In addition, the evening will feature special messages from close friends including Bono, Morgan Freeman, Oprah Winfrey and Salma Hayek. Naomi Judd's widower, Larry Strickland, will be in attendance, and Martina McBride and others still to be named will also make appearances.

Wynonna and Ashley Judd confirmed their mother's death in a statement to TODAY on April 30.

“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.”

As a member of The Judds, Naomi Judd was part of one of the most successful acts in country music history, selling more than 20 million albums and achieving 14 No. 1 hits.

The mother-daughter duo won multiple Grammy and CMA Awards before performing their last concert together in 1991, following Naomi Judd’s announcement that she had been diagnosed with hepatitis C.

Just last month, The Judds reunited to perform their hit "Love Can Build A Bridge" at the 2022 CMT Music Awards. The duo had also announced it would embark on a 10-date arena tour that was to have kicked off in September.

On May 1, a day after announcing Naomi Judd's death, Wynonna and Ashley Judd appeared onstage together to honor their mother at the Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

“My momma loved you so much, and she appreciated your love for her, and I’m sorry that she couldn’t hang on until today,” Ashley Judd told the audience.

“Your esteem for her and regard for her really penetrated her heart,” she added, “and it was your affection for her that did keep her going in these last few years.”

“Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration" airs at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.