Naomi Judd’s life and music celebrated in live memorial service

NASHVILLE — Singers, actors and celebrities gathered Sunday night to pay tribute to the life and legacy of Naomi Judd in a television memorial service “Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration.”

>> Photos: Naomi Judd celebrated in televised memorial service

The CMT special celebrated Naomi Judd, the matriarch of the Grammy-winning mother-daughter duo The Judds, who died April 30 at the age of 76. Her daughters, Wynona and Ashley Judd, attributed her death to the “disease of mental illness.”

The tribute featured performances by Ashley McBryde, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris, Allison Russell, Little Big Town and The Gaithers. Close family friend and “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts hosted the tribute.

Judd’s friends, including Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Bono and Salma Hayek delivered messages in the program. Larry Strickland, Naomi Judd’s husband, also honored his late wife.

The memorial service ended with her daughter Wynonna announcing that a tour planned for later this year would go on, according to The Associated Press.

“After a lot of thought, I’m going to have to honor her and do this tour. I’m just going to have to,” she said to applause and cheers at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. “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.”

The timing of Naomi Judd’s death was shocking, coming one day before The Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on May 2.

Ashley Judd opened up about her mother’s death recently to Diane Sawyer, saying that her mother died at the age of 75 from a self-inflicted gunshot.

The actress said the family wanted to control what information was released before an autopsy came out.

“She used a weapon ... mother used a firearm,” Ashley Judd told Sawyer. “So that’s the piece of information we’re very uncomfortable sharing.”

Ashley Judd was selected by her family to be the one to speak about her mother’s battles with mental illness and to help fans who may find themselves in a similar situation.

Note: If you or someone you know is thinking of harming themselves, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free support at 1-800-273-8255. Beginning July 16, 2022, U.S. residents can also be connected to the Lifeline by dialing 988. For more about risk factors and warning signs, visit the organization’s official website.