Naomi Judd, singer of the Grammy-winning duo The Judds, has died. She was 76.
The daughters announced her death on Saturday in a statement provided to The Associated Press.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” the statement said. “We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.” The statement did not elaborate further.
The Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday and they had just announced an arena tour to begin in the fall, their first tour together in over a decade.
The mother-daughter performers scored 14 No. 1 songs in a career that spanned nearly three decades. After rising to the top of country music, they called it quits in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi Judd with hepatitis.
The Judds’ hits included “Love Can Build a Bridge” in 1990,”Mama He’s Crazy” in 1984, “Why Not Me” in 1984,”Turn It Loose” in 1988, “Girls Night Out” in 1985, “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain” in 1986 and “Grandpa” in 1986.
Originally from Kentucky, Naomi was working as a nurse when she and Wynonna started singing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, together with elements of acoustic music, bluegrass and blues, made them stand out in the genre at the time.
“There’s something about that relationship,” said Chatsworth’s Cowboy Palace Saloon owner Chris Johnson. “I used to sing with my mom, she taught me how to sing, and there’s something about the natural relationship intuition in terms of harmony, that’s what they had.”
The Judds released six studio albums and an EP between 1984 and 1991 and won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music. They earned a total of five Grammy Awards together on hits like “Why Not Me” and “Give A Little Love.”
“They were so unique for their time, a mother and daughters, their harmonies were exquisite I’m still digesting the news,” said musician Kenny Lee Benson.
The Judds sang about family, the belief in marriage and the virtue of fidelity. Because Naomi was so young looking, the two were mistaken for sisters early in their career.
Daughter Ashley Judd is an actor known for her roles in such movies as “Kiss the Girls,” ″Double Jeopardy” and “Heat.”
Naomi Judd is also survived by her husband and fellow singer, Larry Strickland, who was a backup singer for Elvis Presley.