Country music icon Naomi Judd’s legacy inspires generations of Kentucky musicians

Country music legend and Kentucky native Naomi Judd has died at the age of 76.
Published: Apr. 30, 2022 at 10:32 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Country music legend and Kentucky native Naomi Judd has died at the age of 76.

In Judd’s hometown of Ashland, folks paid tribute to her on Saturday night. Leaving flowers on the stage named for the Judds at the city’s entertainment plaza.

‘The Judds’ were to be inducted into the County Music Hall of Fame Sunday. They have been hall of famers here in the Commonwealth for 16 years now.

Those at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in Mount Vernon shared the ways Judd inspired generations of musicians.

“We get to sing together as the Judds, so this is an awesome night,” Naomi Judd said in a previous interview.

News of Naomi Judd’s death has rocked the nation.

“Anybody that’s in the music industry can’t help but be affected by this. They changed everything. There was such a blend of all acoustic base music, but they combined blue grass, blues and country and had their own very unique style of it. And there’s nothing better than family harmonies,” said Jeremy Edwards, the Arts and Entertainment Manager of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame.

Family harmonies is something Jeremy Edwards, with the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame, knows well. Inspired by ‘The Judds,’ Naomi’s Grammy-winning duo with her daughter, Wynonna, Edwards and his sister grew up playing their music.

“They had to actually go through a lot of struggles to get to where they were. I think that’s inspiring, first of all, because it lets people like myself and anyone else aspiring to make music know this is possible. If you work hard enough and believe in something, you can do it.”

Before her musical career began, Naomi worked as a nurse. Then in the 1980s, Naomi and Wynona started singing together, and would go on to sell more than 20 million records, and win five Grammys. Naomi’s daughter Ashley Judd became a well-known actress herself.

But a hepatitis C diagnoses would lead Naomi to announce an early retirement from music a decade later.

Even so, it’s this story that has inspired musicians and music fans alike for the last 40 years.

“I think that’s the special thing about Kentuckians in general. You take Loretta Lynn or Tom T. Hall or any of these folks, they’re real genuine folks,” said Edwards.

Touching something beyond the music.

“Told me I had less than three years left to live. I started investigating how people become happier,” Judd said.

Edwards said Judd’s music is what will survive for decades to come.

The Judds had just announced an arena tour to start in the fall. It would have been their first in over a decade.

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