On Sunday, May 1, the late Naomi Judd was tearfully honored by her daughters Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd at the Country Music Hall of Fame induction in Nashville, Tennessee.
Prior to Sunday's emotional ceremony, the sisters asked that the medallion ceremony proceed as scheduled despite the death of the family matriarch one day prior.
“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,” an emotional Ashley addressed the audience. "Your esteem for her and regard for her really penetrated her heart, and it was your affection for her that did keep her going in these last few years."
The 54-year-old actor was holding onto her sister when she talked.
On Saturday, April 30, the sisters announced that their mother had died at the age of 76. No exact cause of death was revealed, but they did share she died due "to the disease of mental illness."
Naomi's memory was honored at the event Sunday that was meant to her celebrate her contributions to country music alongside her daughter, Wynonna.
The Judds were selected to be inducted into the 2021 class of inductees alongside Eddie Bayers, Ray Charles and Pete Drake. Across their prolific career, the mother-daughter musical duo — with Wynonna serving as lead vocals — won five Grammys, nine CMA awards, seven ACM awards and had 20 top 10 hits, including 14 in the number one spot.
Ashley honored her sister during her remarks as well, making sure she was recognized during the ceremony. She also called her a "G.O.A.T."
"I don't think she knows I'm calling her the greatest of all time." Ashley joked, adding, "She lives on a farm. She's being a little literal."
Next, Wynonna, 57, addressed the audience. “I didn’t prepare anything tonight because I knew mom would probably talk the most," she said.
“I’m gonna make this fast, because my heart’s broken, and I feel so blessed," she continued. "It’s a very strange dynamic, to be this broken and this blessed."
After thanking a few people by name, she added, "Though my heart’s broken, I will continue to sing, because that’s what we do."
Wynonna also detailed her very last moments with her mom.
The sisters' remarks — that lasted about eight minutes — concluded when together, they recited Psalm 23.
On Saturday, Kyle Young, the CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, shared in a statement that the family wished for the medallion ceremony to proceed.
“We are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Naomi Judd, who enters the Country Music Hall of Fame tomorrow as a member of mother-daughter duo The Judds,” Young said.
“Naomi overcame incredible adversity on her way to a significant place in music history. Her triumphant life story overshadows today’s tragic news,” he continued. “Her family has asked that we continue with The Judds’ official Hall of Fame induction on Sunday. We will do so, with heavy hearts and weighted minds. Naomi and daughter Wynonna’s music will endure.”
On Instagram, Brandi Carlile shared that she was supposed to perform at the induction to honor The Judds, with a performance of their hit “Love Can Build a Bridge.” However, due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, she was unable to perform in person. Instead, she shared a performance of the song to social media, joined by her daughters in her backyard.
“Having a bittersweet Sunday afternoon at home with my daughters today and praying fo Wynonna and Ashley," Carlile wrote in the caption of the poignant video. “We know they woke up to a world without their mom today. We want them to know that they’re so loved and that they’ve given a language to not just mothers and daughters everywhere but that every family can learn something about love from the Judds."
“They were my first, second and third concert in my life and they’ve given me more than they could possibly understand,” Carlile continued. “Tonight they will be Inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame and I was supposed to sing them this song tonight. Let’s send them every bit of love and gratitude that they deserve.”
“This next song goes out to everybody who’s ever lost someone that they loved, which is everybody,” Underwood told the assembled crowd at her show in Indio, California, before launching into a performance of her song “See You Again.”
“I feel that’s one of the few human experiences that we all share. But just because the people that we love are not here with us does not mean that they are not here with us, and that does not mean that you will not see them again someday.”
She then asked the crowd to grab a lighter or phone to create light in memory of those who have died, including Naomi.
“Let’s light up this place in memory of all those that we miss,” Underwood said. “I know all of country music will be lighting something up for Ms. Naomi Judd.”