Naomi Judd thought she understood the ties that bind country music stars and their audiences – then an aggressive fan went to join the Pentecostal church the Judd family called home.
“It really overwhelmed me,” Judd said, after signing hundreds of copies of her memoir ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ in 1993. “I just don’t sign autographs at church. The best way to explain it to children… is to say, ‘Honey, Jesus is the star.’ »
After a year of this tense standoff, Judd grew concerned and wrote to a fan. “I said, ‘I want you to really step away from yourself and read this letter and honestly answer this question: are you coming to church to see The Judds or are you coming to the church to see God?’ She never came back to church. But she was in the autograph line today.
Through it all, Judd and her daughter, Wynonna, have spoken openly about their triumphs and struggles. Many fans identified with their failures as much as the messages about faith and family.
At the time of this 1993 interview, Naomi Judd had been battling waves of anxiety attacks to cope with some grim realities – like rape, pregnancy crisis and her battle with hepatitis C that took The Judds out .
What she didn’t talk about was childhood sexual abuse that led to treatment-resistant depression. Judd’s death on April 30, aged 76, drew new attention to direct passages from her 2016 book, “River of Time,” in which she said she was tempted by the suicide,
The Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame the day after Naomi’s death, and her shaken daughter Ashley Judd told the crowd, “I’m sorry she couldn’t hold on until today. today.” Writing in USA Today, the actress expressed her gratitude for her mother’s legacy, but added, “It may be indecent to say, but my heart is also filled with something else. Incandescent fury. Because that my mother was stolen from me by the disease of mental illness, by the wounds she carried from a life of injustices that began when she was a girl.
In her Hall of Fame remarks, Wynonna said a circle of family members gathered around Naomi’s body and recited Psalm 23. Leading the crowd through those familiar verses, Wynonna ended with his voice crisp but firm: “Surely goodness and mercy will all follow me. the days of my life, and I will dwell forever in the house of the Lord” — with the last word spoken “FOR-EV-ER”. And everybody said, “Amen.”
During this 1993 interview, Naomi Judd pointed out that anyone who wants to grasp the lure of country music must understand that its artists are meant to sing about all of life, good and bad, “on Sunday mornings, as well as Fridays. and Saturday evenings. ,” she says.
“People know that Wynonna was conceived when I was 17 and unmarried. They should know that – living all over America like me, with the two kids, during the U-Haul-it years – some pretty hairy things have happened.
Serious country music fans don’t expect perfection, she added. But there are millions of fans who view artists through a celebrity lens — period.
“We don’t have royals in America, so we’ve made celebrities our aristocracy. We worship celebrities instead of God,” she said. “People sit on the edges of their seats waiting to find out what we had for breakfast, and they always ask, ‘What do YOU think about THIS?'”
Meanwhile, the stars are expected – in the spotlight – to face their own angels and demons. This expectation is a double-edged sword.
“I’ve always said that if I had to go to a drug or alcohol or whatever rehab, I would want a counselor who was once worse off than me. Don’t give me someone who just talks that talk. Give me someone who’s been through it,” she said.
But this process can cause anxiety and stress, she admitted. “We all want to be loved and accepted and it’s scary to show that part of you that’s not so smart, not so together.”
Terry Mattingly runs GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is a principal investigator at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.