Remembering Naomi Judd: Country music legend honored at the ‘River of Time’ memorial service

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Editor’s note: This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Country music legend Naomi Judd was honored Sunday night with a public memorial service held at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.

The service, called “Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration,” was broadcast live on CMT. It featured performances from Ashley McBryde, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Allison Russell and Little Big Town. It was hosted by Robin Roberts.

Wynonna Judd performs during a tribute to her mother, country music star Naomi Judd, in the Ryman Auditorium Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.  Naomi Judd died April 30. She was 76. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Wynonna Judd performs during a tribute to her mother, country music star Naomi Judd, in the Ryman Auditorium Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Naomi Judd died April 30. She was 76. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Some of Naomi’s closest friends, including Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Bono and Salma Hayek attended the memorial.

The service ended with Naomi’s daughter Wynonna Judd announcing that a tour planned for later this year would go on.

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“Tonight is a celebration, and at the same time I can’t put into words how devastated I am,” Wynonna Judd said. “I miss her so much.

“After a lot of thought, I’m going to have to honor her and do this tour. I’m just going to have it,” she said to applause and cheers. “Tonight, as we close, the show must go on, as hard as it may be. And we will show up together and you will carry me.”

Wynonna Judd looks up after singing during a tribute to her mother, country music star Naomi Judd, Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.  Naomi Judd died April 30. She was 76. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Wynonna Judd looks up after singing during a tribute to her mother, country music star Naomi Judd, Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Naomi Judd died April 30. She was 76. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Wynonna performed at the service, singing “The Rose” with Brandi Carlile. At one point, Wynonna paused her performance so that she could redo a section of the song better.

Naomi’s other daughter Ashley Judd spoke at the service. She delivered an eulogy that traced her mother’s life from its humble beginnings in Kentucky to the heights of superstardom.

“We are here tonight remembering an icon and a legend who left country music better than she found it,” Ashley Judd said tearfully.

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Ashley Judd, left, and Wynonna Judd speak during a tribute to their mother, country music star Naomi Judd, Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.  Naomi Judd died April 30. She was 76. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Ashley Judd, left, and Wynonna Judd speak during a tribute to their mother, country music star Naomi Judd, Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Naomi Judd died April 30. She was 76. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

“She was every woman. Perhaps this is why everyone felt they knew her,” the actor said. “She was a nurse. She was a single mom who sometimes relied on public assistance. She was traumatized by early childhood sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, and rape, and she was fired by a boss when she refused to go away with him for a weekend.

“Tonight, we remember her in song,” the actor said, introducing her sister Wynonna who sang “River of Time.”

The lyrics – “I’m holding back a flood of tears, just thinking ’bout those happy years, like all the good times that are no more,” filled the venue, which both Judd daughters noted was country music’s “Mother Church.”

Naomi’s husband, Larry Strickland, was also in attendance.

A church choir and spectators sing

A church choir and spectators sing “Love Can Build A Bridge,” along with Wynonna Judd during a tribute to country music star Naomi Judd in the Ryman Auditorium, Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. The fans that the spectators hold show a picture of Naomi Judd as a child. Naomi Judd died April 30. She was 76. (AP Photo / Mark Humphrey)

Naomi died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 30, according to Ashley Judd. She was 76.

Ashley appeared last week on “Good Morning America” ​​to speak about her mother’s death.

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Naomi Judd

“She used a weapon… my mother used a firearm,” Ashley said. “So that’s the piece of information that we’re very uncomfortable sharing, but understand that we’re in a position that if we don’t say it to someone else is going to.”

Ashley explained she was tapped to share the cause of death news with the world by the family in order to shed light on mental illness.

The Associated Press and Fox News’ Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report.

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