Naomi Judd was honored with a musical tribute on Sunday night at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Aired on CMT, Naomi Judd: A River Of Time Celebration featured performances by Naomi’s daughter and partner in The Judds, Wynonna, as well as Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlile, Allison Russell and more.
Naomi Judd died by suicide on April 30, the day before The Judds were honored by the Country Music Hall Of Fame. The 76-year-old had announced The Judds’ final reunion tour with her daughter that was to take place later this year. At the conclusion of Sunday’s event, Wynonna indicated that she intended to fulfill the tour.
“Tonight, as we close, I say the show must go on as hard as it may be, and you will carry me just as you did for 38 years,” Wynonna told the audience, according to CMT. “It’s so devastatingly beautiful what happened here tonight. So, we will continue this spectacle. That’s what she would want.”
Performances included Wynonna beginning the evening with “River of Time” and teaming with Carlile on “The Rose,” as well as closing the night with a performance of “Love Can Build a Bridge” while backed by the Christ Church Choir.
Others who paid tribute to Naomi Judd included Harris and Russell performing “The Sweetest Gift,” Jamey Johnson performing “John Deere Tractor,” Carly Pearce performing “Why Not Me,” Ashley McBryde performing “Love is Alive,” Little Big Town performing “Grandpa (Tell Me ’Bout the Good Old Days)” and Brad Paisley performing “Young Love (Strong Love).” Additionally, the Gaither Vocal Band performed “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be.”
Wynonna was joined onstage by her sister, actor Ashley Judd, as well as Naomi’s husband, Larry Strickland. At the beginning of the evening, Ashley addressed the audience with an emotional remembrance of her mother.
“She was every woman,” Ashley said per CMT. “Perhaps that’s why everyone felt they knew her. She was a nurse. She was a single mom who sometimes relied on public assistance. She was traumatized by early childhood abuse, intimate partner violence and rape. She was fired by a boss for refusing to go away with him for a weekend. She was mamaw to her grandchildren. And she was totally extraordinary.”
Below, watch several performances from Naomi Judd: A River Of Time Celebration featuring Wynonna, Emmylou Harris, Brandi Carlile, Allison Russell and others: