Remembering Naomi Judd's Life in Photos

The country star died on April 30, 2022, following a longtime battle with mental illness

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Naomi Judd and Wynonna Judd during The 28th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Born on Jan. 11, 1946, in Ashland, Kentucky, Naomi Judd welcomed daughter Wynonna when she was 18 years old. Four years later she gave birth to daughter Ashley and enrolled herself in nursing school in California, before moving her family back to Kentucky and later Nashville, where she and Wynonna landed a recording contract together as country duo The Judds, according to a PBS profile.

Together, the women won five Grammys for best country performance by a duo or group with vocal, including here at the 1986 awards.

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Wynonna Judd, Naomi Judd and Ashley Judd (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

In 1987, Naomi took her girls to the Academy of Country Music Awards, where she and Wynonna won their fourth of what would eventually be seven top vocal duo awards.

"The good news is, I raised two very creative, strong-willed, expressive, passionate women," Naomi told AARP the Magazine in 2007, adding, "The bad news is, I raised two very creative, strong-willed, expressive, passionate women."

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WYNONNA JUDD AND HER MOTHER NAOMI (Photo by William Campbell/Sygma via Getty Images)
William Campbell/Sygma via Getty

Together, Naomi and Wynonna had 20 top 10 singles — 15 of which were No. 1 hits — before they released their last full original studio album, Love Can Build a Bridge, in 1990. They followed it up in 1991 with Greatest Hits Volume Two.

After Naomi was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1990, the pair went on a farewell tour that, according to Yahoo, was the "top-grossing tour of that year and was the most successful musical event in cable pay-per-view history." It was the unofficial end of Naomi's career, though there was much more to come.

"I'd never been sick for a day in my life," she recalled of her hepatitis C diagnosis to AARP the Magazine in 2007. Yet "these guys with starched white coats and degrees told me I was going to die. If I had believed them, I'd be dead by now."

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ATLANTA, GA - 1994: Country singers, Wynonna Judd (left) and her mother Naomi Judd, perform during the half-time show at the 1994 Atlanta, Georgia, Superbowl XXVII football game at the Georgia Dome. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
George Rose/Getty

In 1994, the mother-daughter pair reunited at the Super Bowl halftime show.

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Reba McEntire and Naomi Judd (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

In 1994, Judd attended a taping of Reba alongside fellow country music star, Reba McEntire.

McEntire used a similar photo to memorialize her late friend on May 1, 2022, writing, "We've been down the long road together. I sure miss my buddy. Rest In Peace. Finally. Love you Naomi."

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Billy Ray Cyrus and Naomi Judd during 43rd Annual Boomtown Western Gala at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty

In 1996, Naomi arrived on the back of a convertible alongside Billy Ray Cyrus during the 43rd Annual Boomtown Western Gala in L.A.

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9/23/99 New York, Ny Naomi, Ashley, And Wynona Judd At The Premiere Of "Double Jeopardy." (Photo By Robin Platzer/Twin Images/Getty Images)
Naomi, Ashley and Wynonna Judd in 1999. Robin Platzer/Twin Images/Getty

In 1999, Naomi and Wynonna attended the premiere of Double Jeopardy to support Ashley, who starred in the film.

"Ashley and I are so stinking much alike," Naomi told Robin Roberts in 2016. "We have the same mannerisms. We both read a whole lot. We both love new places. There's such similarities."

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LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 8: Naomi Judd Signs copies of her book 'Naomi's Breakthrough Guide' at Barnes and Noble on January 8, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Carlo Allegri/Getty Images)
Carlo Allegri/Getty

The singer was also an accomplished author. She wrote Love Can Build a Bridge in 1995, Naomi's Breakthrough Guide in 2004 and Naomi's Guide to Aging Gracefully in 2007. She also released three children's books.

In 2016, she released River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, in which she was candid about her experience with mental illness.

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WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 5: Singer Naomi Judd and husband Larry Strickland arrive at the 27th Annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts December 5, 2004 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Getty Images)
Evan Agostini/Getty

In 1989, Naomi married Larry Strickland, once a backup singer for Elvis Presley.

In Naomi's 2007 AARP profile, Strickland joked, "Sometimes a poor old country boy like me can get lost in Juddville. All three of the women are strong, emotional, tell-it-like-it-is individuals."

Here, the longtime loves in 2004 at the 27th Annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

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Naomi Judd during Taping of Naomi Judd's New Sunday Morning Talk Show "Naomi's New Morning" - March 12, 2007 at Metropolis Studios in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage)
Jemal Countess/WireImage

From 2005 to 2007, she hosted Naomi's New Morning on the Hallmark Channel.

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INDIO, CA - MAY 03: Musicians Naomi Judd and Wynonna of The Judds perform during day 2 of Stagecoach, California's Country Music Festival held at the Empire Polo Field on May 3, 2008 in Indio, California. (Photo by Barry Brecheisen/WireImage)
Barry Brecheisen/WireImage

The mother-daughter duo returned to the stage again in 2008 at the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, California.

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WINSTON-SALEM, NC - MAY 20: Poet Dr. Maya Angelou and Naomi Judd attend Dr. Maya Angelou's 82nd birthday party with friends and family at Angelou's home on May 20, 2010 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Steve Exum/Getty Images)
Steve Exum/Getty

Naomi shared a tender moment with Maya Angelou at the luminary's 82nd birthday party in North Carolina in 2010.

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sipa/Shutterstock (1264940c) The Judds - Naomi and Wynonna Judd The Judds in concert at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, America - 18 Dec 2010

The Judds reunited again for the Last Encore Tour in 2010.

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NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 01: Wynonna Judd and Naomi Judd, The Judds are the recipient of the CRB (Country Radio Broadcasters) 2011 Career Achievement Award at the Renaissance Hotel as part of the CRS (Country Radio Seminar) on March 1, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
Rick Diamond/Getty

In 2011, The Judds took home the CRB (Country Radio Broadcasters) 2011 Career Achievement Award at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville.

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UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Singer Naomi Judd on the set of Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family Holiday Special" at Universal Studios Hollywood on November 18, 2013 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Paul Redmond/Getty Images)
Paul Redmond/Getty

Naomi returned to Hallmark Channel in 2013 for the Home & Family Holiday Special.

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LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Wynonna Judd (L) and Naomi Judd arrive at The Venetian Las Vegas to launch their nine-show residency "Girls Night Out" on October 6, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
Isaac Brekken/Getty

The Naomi and Wynonna reunions continued in 2015 when Mom and daughter kicked off their brief Girls Night Out residency at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

Afterward, Naomi told Robin Roberts, the two took a "break."

"Through the decades, we kind of grew up together and I'm always telling her, 'If I'd known better I would've done better,' " Naomi said. "Wy bore the brunt of all of the mistakes I made and we talk about 'em. We've been through a lot of therapy together." The two grew apart during the filming of their 2011 OWN reality series The Judds and their final tour.

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UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - MARCH 30: Singer Naomi Judd visits Hallmark's "Home & Family" at Universal Studios Hollywood on March 30, 2018 in Universal City, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
David Livingston/Getty

Naomi appeared on Hallmark's Home & Family in 2018, two years after opening up about her depression to Robin Roberts.

"What I've been through is extreme. My final diagnosis was severe depression," she shared. "Treatment resistant because they tried me on every single thing they had in their arsenal. It really felt like, if I live through this I want someone to be able to see that they can survive."

"They see me in rhinestones, you know, with glitter in my hair, that really is who I am," she said. "But then I would come home and not leave the house for three weeks, and not get out of my pajamas, and not practice normal hygiene. It was really bad."

Her condition landed her several stays in psychiatric wards and on different medications — which she said caused her hands to shake and her face to swell up "like a balloon."

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2022 CMT Music Awards – Arrivals
Terry Wyatt/WireImage

Naomi's last major outing was at the CMT Music Awards on April 11, 2022, where she made her first televised appearance with Wynonna in 20 years. Taking the stage outside of the Nashville Municipal Auditorium, the duo performed their 1990 hit "Love Can Build a Bridge" accompanied by a choir of gospel singers, coming together at the end for a touching family moment. That same day, they announced plans for a fall arena tour.

However on April 30, Wynonna and Ashley announced that their mother had died. PEOPLE later confirmed that the singer had died by suicide.

"We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public," a statement from the pair read. "We are in unknown territory."

Just one day later, Wynonna appeared in Nashville for the pair's induction into Country Music Hall of Fame.

"I'm gonna make this fast because my heart's broken — and I feel so blessed," Wynonna told the 800 people gathered in Nashville's CMA Theater for the induction ceremony. "I mean, it's a very strange dynamic to be this broken and this blessed."

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