Somewhere buried in my basement is a cassette tape of a speech given in the Milwaukee area by country singer Naomi Judd who died last Saturday at the age of 76 due to a “mental illness” according to a family statement.
Judd appeared here more than 30 years ago to promote her new autobiography. I could be wrong but I think she spoke at the Southridge Mall. I covered her touching remarks for WTMJ Radio. Her publisher wrote at the time:
Here, at last, is the exquisitely personal story of a mother and daughter who sang like angels and fought like the devil – but loved each other through struggle, triumph, and tragedy. For eight glorious years, Naomi Judd and daughter Wynonna lived the American dream. They were signed on the spot to RCA in 1983 in a rare live audition and went on to set the music world on its ear. Their pristine harmonies, unique personalities, and stunning presence captured mainstream America’s heart.
The Judds were country music’s most-honored and top-selling women. They were undefeated as Duet of the Year for eight years, picked up six Grammys, and won a vast array of other awards. In the U.S. alone, they sold over fifteen million albums and were the number one touring act in their industry for 1991. They were on top of the world when Naomi made the shocking announcement that she was being forced to retire because of a life-threatening liver disease. Their Farewell Concert, televised on cable, was the most successful musical show in pay-per-view history. Their last song together broke America’s heart and ended one of the most beloved acts of all time in country music.
Naomi spent the next two years in isolation, reliving her extraordinary life and career for these pages. Love Can Build a Bridge is written with the same raw emotion and candor that made the Judds such electrifying performers. Funny, shocking, wise, inspiring, and vulnerable, this behind-the-scenes look into the Judds’ private lives spares no one and nothing. Love Can Build a Bridge is a soaring paean of what happens when a fairy tale and grim reality collide.
After Naomi and her daughter Wynona rose to the top of country music, they called it quits as a duo in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi with hepatitis C. Wynonna continued her solo career.