The top selling country music duo in recording history, the Judds were a Nashville institution by the time mother Naomi (born Diana Judd, January 11, 1946, in Ashland Kentucky) retired from the entertainment business in 1991 due to chronic hepatitis. Their pure, unadorned harmonies, acoustic guitar-dominated arrangements, and old-fashioned song lyrics placed them in the vanguard of the New Traditionalists, a new wave of 1980s artists dedicated to reviving the aesthetic of post-World War II hard country music.
Naomi married at seventeen; on May 30, 1964 she gave birth to Christina Cininella, who would later change her name to Wynonna. Following her divorce, she moved to Los Angeles in 1968 with her two daughters, earning a living by modeling, secretarial work and various other positions. In 1976, they relocated to Morrill, Kentucky, a rural area where many nights were spent listening to country radio stations. Following the example of many local musicians, the family began singing to Wynonna’s guitar. Naomi finished nursing studies during a brief interlude in Northern California before settling in Nashville in 1979 to attempt a music career.
Taking advantage of performing opportunities, most notably appearances on Ralph Emery’s early morning radio program, the duo secured a contract with RCA in 1983. On the strength of Wynonna’s distinctive lead vocals and Naomi’s gentle harmonizing, the Judds placed one song after another into the upper reaches of the country charts during the 1980s, including the number one hits "Mama He’s Crazy" (RCA 13772; 1984), "Why Not Me" (RCA 13923; 1984), "Girls Night Out" (RCA 13991; 1985), "Love Is Alive" (RCA 14093; 1985), "Have Mercy" (RCA 14193; 1985), "Grandpa" (RCA 14290; 1986), "Rockin’ with the Rhythm of the Rain" (RCA 14362; 1986), "Cry Myself to Sleep" (RCA 5000; 1986), "I Know Where I’m Going" (RCA5164; 1987), "Maybe Your Baby’s Got the Blues" (RCA 5255; 1987), "Turn It Loose" (RCA 5329; 1988), and "Change of Heart" (RCA 8715; 1988). Albums such as Why Not Me (RCA 5319; 1984), Rockin’ with the Rhythm (RCA 7042; 1985), Heartland (RCA 5916; 1987), and Greatest Hits (RCA 8318; 1988) proved even more successful, achieving platinum status on the pop album charts.
Although the act remained on top until disbanding in 1991, Wynonna initally had doubts about continuing as a solo artist. Encouraged by her mother, Wynonna went on to release five platinum LPs through 2000—Wynonna (Curb 10529; 1992; #4), Tell Me Why (Curb; 1993), Revelations (Curb; 1996), The Other Side (Curb; 1997), and New Day Dawning (Curb; 2000)—all of which have featured a wider range of styles (including folk, pop, and rock) than that characterizing the Judds. In the meantime, the duo reunited for a New Year’s Eve, 1999 concert—released in spring 2000 as The Judds Reunion: Live (RCA)—and released a newly-recorded single, "Stuck in Love," available only on a bonus disc within the limited-edition version of New Day Rising.
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