In 1980, the world of country music was introduced to Naomi Judd when she became one-half of the duo The Judds, which became a very successful country music act providing the genre with a crucial counterpoint to their male peers and effortlessly balancing toughness and vulnerability. The Judds’ songs, such as “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days),” “Love Can Build A Bridge,” “Young Love (Strong Love),” and “Mama He’s Crazy,” were unlike anything else on the airwaves.
So, today, let’s get to know more about the legendary country artist Naomi Judd with these facts you might not have known yet, including her painful past.
1. She’s a native of Ashland, Kentucky.
Naomi Judd, whose real name was Diana Ellen Judd, was born to her mother, Pauline Ruth Judd, and father, Charles Glen Judd, a gas station owner. Sadly, Judd went through an “unwelcome life-altering experience” as a child that would haunt her for a lifetime.
When Judd was only three years old, she was infected with chickenpox. So, her mother kept her isolated by sending her to her grandmother’s house. While there, a man she regarded as Uncle Charlie came into the room and sexually abused her.
Memories of that childhood abuse gripped her for the rest of her life.
2. She became a mother at the age of 18.
Judd welcomed her first daughter, Christina Claire Ciminella – who we all know now as Wynonna Judd – before her senior year of high school. Sadly, she was abandoned by Wynona’s father and was forced to marry Michael Ciminella “to have a roof and a name.” The couple later welcomed their daughter, Ashley Judd.
3. She brought up both daughters as a single-parent.
Unfortunately, Judd’s marriage to Ciminella did not last long and ended up in a divorce. So, she bravely raised her two daughters by herself while working a receptionist job. Judd admitted that, at that time, she and her daughters were “a paycheque away from the streets every night.”
4. She changed her name in honor of the Biblical figure, Naomi.
When Judd went back to her maiden name after she was officially divorced, she took the chance to get a brand-new name.
Judd thought that her name, Diana, did not suit her “own spiritual, rural Kentucky conception of her true heritage” – so she changed it to Naomi, whose story of moving into another land and eventually living without a husband resonated with Judd.
5. She had a longtime battle with mental illness.
In her memoir River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, the country music icon detailed her experience with depression and anxiety – which she called a “constant physical torment.” She also revealed how she had suffered from suicidal depression.
Sadly, on April 30, 2022 – just one day before she was to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of fame – Judd died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at her home in Tennessee. She was 76.
Indeed, Naomi Judd’s death was such a great loss in the country music community. And we’re hoping these facts about the legendary country artist keep her alive in our memories.