Wynonna Judd

When Wynonna Judd entered the world as Christina Ciminella on May 30, 1964, she was destined to be a country star.

She never met her father but stormed charts with her mother Naomi in the eighties as one of the most popular duos in the history of the genre.

They won a brace of awards for their videogenic vibrance and rose above the storms of life with gay abandon.

Naomi, a former nurse and latter day actress and author, retired several times after being diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C in 1990.
But reunion tours spawned a batch of live albums and compilations to shoot their tally way beyond 30.

Naomi was born Diana Ellen Judd on January 11, 1946, in Ashland, Kentucky.

And when she became pregnant at 17 she quickly got married - but not to the father of first child, Wynonna.

After Naomi divorced she moved from their Hollywood home to Morrill, Kentucky.
There she reared Wynonna and younger daughter Ashley - the latter day movie star who visited Australia in 2004.

The Judds were raised on bluegrass, gospel and pop but chose country as their genre for recording.

They lived a spartan lifestyle in the mountains of Kentucky - there was no phone or television but there was a radio.

When Wynonna was just 15 she yearned a singing career so Naomi moved again to Nashville in 1979.


The delicious dynamics of Naomi's contralto and Wynonna's deep drawl landed them spots on Ralph Emery's morning television show.

Naomi scored an audition at RCA after nursing a hospitalised relation of the hot-shot label producer and songwriter Brent Maher.

The Judds rags to riches rise ensured they were easy to market.

Their debut disc contained the memorable John Deere Tractor and was followed by Had a Dream (For the Heart) that peaked at #17 in 1984.

Later that year the Judds scored their first of 14 #1 hits with Mama He's Crazy.

Originals included Naomi's 1989 tune Change of Heart dedicated to second spouse and former Elvis Presley backing vocalist Larry Strickland.

Naomi Judd >

Maher co-wrote hits such as 1984's Grammy-winning Why Not Me, Turn It Loose, Girls Night Out and Rockin' With the Rhythm of the Rain.

Most Judds records enjoyed an acoustic feel and penchant for star guests that included Jordanaires on Don't Be Cruel, Emmylou Harris on The Sweetest Gift, Mark Knopfler on his Water of Love and Bonnie Raitt playing slide guitar on their memorable album Love Can Build a Bridge.

The Judds toured America in a series of extravagant farewell concerts and sold more than 20 million albums before their split.

"I'd open in front of ten to twenty thousand people, then I'd go back to my room and order room service with my dog," Wynonna says of her show business entrée.

"It's not normal to be on the road at 18 years old opening for Merle Haggard."

Naomi's hepatitis left her so weak she could barely get out of bed to perform a final Judds concert in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in December 1991.

Doctors told her that unless an aggressive treatment plan worked she may not survive.

Miraculously, Naomi's body has been largely free of the killer virus after a course of alfa-interferon treatments, which work in only 15 % of patients.


Wynonna Judd

Meanwhile Wynonna, now 40, became equally as well known as young actress sister Ashley, 36, with her soulful music.

Her self-titled debut solo disc embraced gospel, soul and R&B and sold more than 5 million copies.

Since then she has recorded six more albums featuring 20 #1 hits, 13 other #10 hits, and won five Grammy awards.

The debut featured the Naomi co-write with Mike Reid on My Strongest Weakness and Dave Loggins hit She Is His Only Need.

The second disc Tell Me Why included Naomi tune That Was Yesterday, Mary Chapin Carpenter's Girls With Guitars and Kimmie Rhodes I Just Drove By and followed by Revelations and The Collection.

She co-wrote Troubled Heart And Troubled Mind for The Other Side - anchored by Kevin Welch's title track and featuring Naomi and Kenny Wayne Shepherd on Don't You Throw That Mojo At Me.

New Day Dawning preceded What The World Needs Now Is Love where she scored with James Dean Hicks-Chuck Cannon tune Heaven Help Me.

The new hit is Cannon-Allan Shamblin-Austin Cunningham cut Flies On The Butter.


Wynonna recorded a concert CD-DVD at the Grand Ole Opry on February 1 this year - a reprise of her 2004 tour Her Story: Scenes From a Lifetime.

Supporters in the audience included Naomi, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Keith Urban, Terri Clark and Billy Dean.

In the first half of the two-hour show, Wynonna sang several hits from the Judds and her solo career.

The second half featured covers drawn from her diverse musical influences that even extend to dance.

Wynonna's remix of I Want to Know What Love Is debuted in 2003 at #16 on the Billboard Dance Radio chart.

The remake of Foreigner's 1984 hit was added to What the World Needs Now Is Love.

Wynonna joined fellow country stars Billy Ray Cyrus, Joe Nichols and Randy Travis as finalists in the prestige gospel Dove Awards for her song Rescue Me.

The Doves will be presented April 13 in Nashville.

Wynonna doesn't take her success and longevity for granted.

"Every day for me is like trying to take a drink out of a firehose," she revealed.

"I just feel so overwhelmed, overjoyed, overworked and overpaid. I've had my time of glory, and every day that I'm out here is a bonus."

Turning 40 was a memorable milestone.

"I freaked out not because I turned 40, but because of what was happening during my birthday," she said.

"I went through this huge moment of reality - my mom is 58, my sister is 36 and I realised that wow, it's really time to grow up, or at least know when to show up as an adult and when to show up as an adolescent. I'm still sorting out which girl shows up when."


And, like Naomi, her well publicised divorce from Arch Kelley 111 - a boat builder and used boat salesman - scored massive publicity.

Arch Kelley is the father of their children Elijah, 10, and Grace, 9.

The couple split after a stormy three-year marriage from 1996; Arch received a lump sum of $250,000 dictated by pre-nuptial agreement.

The duo took out restraining orders against each other with disputes over such niceties as custody of their breeding beefalo.

"I don't miss him at all - as a matter of fact, I'm spreading my wings and man, do I feel like a woman!" Wynonna said of her freedom.

Ashley Judd >

"Me and Arch had a unique lifestyle and a unique marriage. He was in and out tending to his business and hardly ever saw the kids. I was out on the road working and earning the money he was spending and there were times I didn't know what he was doing."

Wynonna found the man of her dreams in her new husband and former bodyguard and manager, D.R. Roach who has a son Zac 15.

"Roach is the love of my life," Wynonna confessed.

"He was my bodyguard and road manager for 13 years, but I never truly saw him as the spiritual man that he is. It's a love story, what happened to us. The fact that I'm married again is really a miracle."

But in the excitement of pending nuptials she joined Deana Carter, Terri Clark and other peers in the drink driving fast lane.

Wynonna blew 0.175% while driving her turbo charged Land Rover near the famed Music Row country HQ in Nashville.

She said she was celebrating her impending wedding and a friend's birthday "and clearly let my excitement get the best of me.''

"I know there is never a situation where drinking and driving is acceptable and I take full responsibility for my error in judgment.

"I went to hell so now I know the wait. I know what to pack. And I know that God gives you second chances.

"There's your timing and then there's God's timing. I know exactly what people are talking about now when they say if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plan."


Judd - a voracious supporter of social justice - also earned a huge gay following akin to Dolly Parton and performed a Caribbean cruise ship for gay and lesbian couples.

She responded to wowsers' boycotts and threats by declaring "I've had the biggest gay following in the history of country music since 1980 something. I think it's just the more you talk about love the more you talk about God, the bigger of a target you are. And so bring it on."

And after baring her soul about her inner turmoil including fears about the birth father she never knew and other angst avalanches on the Oprah TV show she scored a record 800,000 hits on her web page the day after.

"That means I'm not the only wounded person in the world," Wynonna said.

"There must be someone else out there feeling lonely. And we live in a society that pretty much tells us if you're not this, you know, you're the big loser. Put the big "L" on your forehead with your fingers because you don't fit in. So I rely on my gut and my heart, and I have for the most part of my career."

"When we were growing up, we were so poor that I could never buy extra stuff," says Wynonna.

"But now that I'm grown up, you'd think I'd be more thrifty, wouldn't you? But I'm not. I have extravagances. I buy Harleys, and I buy lots of stuff for the kids. Now I also have 60 animals on my farm - and more are on the way this spring! Those do take up a lot of my money.

"I spend a lot of money on collectible guitars and stage clothes. That's pretty much it, that's my life - spending money on the kids and me. My mother tells me that I should slow down and watch how I spend my money. My farm loses money and I do sort of live in a dream world."

CD REVIEW - 2003


Kentuckian fireball Wynonna Judd also earned healthy royalties for Arena, cutting three Tina tunes after The Judds split when her mother Naomi suffered hepatitis.

She recorded Heaven Help My Heart on 1996 disc Revelations, Love's Funny That Way on The Other Side (1997) and Lost Without You on New Day Dawning (2000.)

Now, on seventh solo disc What The World Needs Now Is Love (Sony), she performs her co-write You Are - dedicated to younger actress sister Ashley.

The song is from the 2000 movie Someone Like You.

Wynonna produced most of her new love laden 14-track disc (six songs have love in the title) with Dan Huff and others.

It kicks off with Holly Lamar-Brett James tune What The World Needs (Now Is Love) and segues into amour ballad, Heaven Help Me, and the satiric sizzler It All Comes Down To Love.

Love can be soppy but Wynonna gives hers a passion and depth denied to many peers.

Naomi harmonises on nostalgia laced Flies On The Butter and Jeff Beck guests on Mick Jones penned 1984 Foreigner hit I Want To Know What Love Is.

Equally memorable is Sometimes I Feel Like Elvis that precedes her cut of Dennis Linde penned Elvis hit Burnin' Love she recorded for Disney movie Lilo And Stitch.

Wynonna enhances her credibility with assertive songs such as I Will Be, Your Day Will Come and No One's Gonna Break Me Down.

She balances that with self confessed fragility in Who Am I Supposed To Love and finale song Rescue Me.

Wynonna wrote and performed the title track for Erin Brockovich reality TV series Final Justice and reprised her own role in TV series Touched By An Angel.

She also had songs on the soundtrack of The Apostle featuring Robert Duvall, Billy Joe Shaver and June Carter Cash.

And she also featured on the soundtracks of Silent Fall, The Associate, The Gift, Prince Of Egypt, Someone Like You, Lilo And Stitch and tribute discs for Tammy Wynette and Lynyrd Skynyrd.


Ashley Judd has developed a career as an actress, newspaper columnist and some time singer.

She has also been signed for new movies Unless That Someone is You and Will Come Early Morning.

Here's a selection of her movie roles -
De-Lovely and Twisted - 2004
Frida, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and High Crimes - 2002
Someone Like You - 2001
The Ryan Interview and Where the Heart Is - 2000

Double Jeopardy, Eye of the Beholder and Our Friend, Martin - 1999
Simon Birch - 1998
Kiss the Girls and The Locusts - 1997
Normal Life, A Time to Kill and Norma Jean & Marilyn - 1996
Heat, Smoke and The Passion of Darkly Noon - 1995
Natural Born Killers - 1994
Ruby in Paradise - 1993
Till Death Us Do Part and Kuffs - 1992
Sisters - 1991


Naomi Judd landed a cameo in The Living Proof - the 1983 telemovie about Hank Williams Jr - and other movies and TV series.


Someone Like You - 2001
Family Tree- 1999
More American Graffiti - 1979


Touched by an Angel - 2000
A Holiday Romance - 1999
3rd Rock from the Sun - 1996
The Client - 1995
Rio Diablo - 1993
Sisters - 1991
Living Proof: The Hank Williams Jr. Story - 1983


Naomi's Breakthrough Guide: 20 Choices to Transform Your Life - Simon & Schuster - 2004
Guardian Angels - 2000 - Children's Book
Love Can Build A Bridge - 1999 - Children's Book
Naomi's Home Companion: A Treasury of Favourite Recipes, Food For Thought, and Country Wit and Wisdom - 1997
Love Can Build A Bridge - 1994 - Autobiography

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