The Judds, mom Naomi and daughter Wynonna, traveled a long and often difficult road from a small town in Kentucky to national fame. They brought a distinctive family harmony to country music, powered by Wynonna’s bluesy lead vocals, with songs that celebrated true love, independence and even spirituality. They certainly stand as one of the most successful duos in country music history. From their peak years, essentially 1984 to their split in 1991 due to Naomi’s bout with hepatitis, The Judds scored 14 No. 1 hits, including “Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not Me,” and “Turn It Loose.” They also won nine CMA awards and five Grammys.
To honor their legacy and influence, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is devoting a special exhibit to the duo, “The Judds: Dream Chasers,” which opened to the public Friday, August 10th. On Wednesday night (Aug. 8th), the Hall of Fame hosted an invitation-only preview of the exhibit, which features artifacts, manuscripts and other items of interest from The Judds’ remarkable career.
Naomi and Wynonna were on hand at the preview to welcome friends, media members and industry stalwarts like Joe Galante, the former head of RCA Records in Nashville, and producer Brent Maher, who discovered The Judds and produced all ten of their albums. Mother and daughter were in fine form during their remarks from the Hall of Fame’s Rotunda, mixing humor with tearful emotion. “There are a lot of mothers that keep stuff,” noted Naomi. “I just keep every stinkin’ thing there is and you’ll see it in the museum.” The red-haired matriarch also thanked Galante, whom she said “changed our lives forever,” and Maher.
Wynonna, known for her deadpan wit, showcased that side of her personality as she addressed the audience. She alluded to being the tender age of 18 when she and her mom set out on their career path. “When you’re 18,” she smiled, “you’re supposed to have hangovers and be late on your rent. And yet, a dream come true – I shared a bus with you,” Wynonna added, turning towards Naomi. But her moment turned serious as she looked back on The Judds’ rise to country superstardom. “We’re like an American Dream,” Wynonna offered. “We moved here and had nothing. And you and I sang, and when we did, something miraculous happened.” Brushing back tears, she again acknowledged her mom. “We have been through so much together,” she said. “My life has been better because of you.”
Visitors to the exhibit can enjoy a number of artifacts and fascinating displays. Highlights include: A velvet jacket worn by Wynonna on The Judds farewell concert in December of 1991; Naomi’s nurse’s uniform from her former job; CMA, Grammy and ACM awards; early photographs of the duo; a dress Naomi sported at the 1984 CMA Awards show, and several other items.
Both Naomi and Wynonna expressed their gratitude to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for the “Dream Chasers” exhibit. “The Country Music Hall of Fame and museum is sacred ground, regarded with reverence and respect,” Naomi said. “I am so overjoyed to have The Judds’ career encapsulated in this new exhibit.” Wynonna noted, “I am truly humbled and grateful to partner with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to honor The Judds’ legacy and relive some of the special moments we shared with our fans.”
“The Judds: Dream Chasers” exhibit is now open at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. The exhibit will run through July 14, 2019. For more information, please visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum website.