Inside Naomi and Wynonna Judd’s Vulcan relationship

Inside Naomi and Wynonna Judd’s Vulcan relationship

Although The Judds sang in perfect harmony on stage, by the time the lights went down the mother-daughter duo had a relationship steeped in family secrets, mental illness and conflict that lasted from the day it began to the day it ended.

The anger between Naomi, who has struggled with depression all her life, and Wynonna Judd began before Wynonna was even born when her father abandoned her mother upon learning she was pregnant. From there they lived in the depths of poverty until they eventually reached the heights of fame in the country music scene.

Along the way, they worked through traumas from their past — from sexual assault to eating disorders — and developed a relationship that Naomi said was so close, they “would scare each other because we can go so deep.”

It was so intense that they often went through periods of conflict and estrangement that lasted until last April, when Naomi committed suicide and left a note that read, “Don’t let Wy come to my funeral. She’s mentally ill.” Naomi also wrote her two daughters out of her $25 million will before her death.

Wynonna Judd played guitar with her mother, Naomi, as a young girl

Naomi (left) and Wynonna (right) perform on stage in 1988

Naomi (left) and Wynonna (right) perform on stage in 1988

Naomi Judd left a suicide note by her bed and insisted her daughter Wynonna should not attend her funeral

Naomi Judd left a suicide note by her bed and insisted her daughter Wynonna should not attend her funeral

Naomi became pregnant with Wynonna the first time she had sex, the night she graduated from high school at age 18.

Three months later, when she told her father, Charles Jordan, he hung up the phone and left her alone.

“When I called him to tell him I thought I was pregnant, he said, ‘Well, tough luck kiddo,'” Naomi recalled to Candy O’Terry in 2020. ‘And he hung up and we never heard from him.’

Naomi then, out of desperation, quickly married a man named Michael Ciminella, saying she had to “marry the town idiot to have a roof and a name”.

Naomi Judd with daughters Wynonna (left) and Ashley (right)

Naomi Judd with daughters Wynonna (left) and Ashley (right)

Wynonna (left) sings with her mother around the age of 14

Wynonna (left) sings with her mother around the age of 14

The couple and their newborn daughter then flew to Los Angeles where they had another daughter, Ashley, in 1968.

But the marriage quickly fell apart, and Naomi had to raise Wynonna and Ashley “a paycheck off the street every night” while she worked as a receptionist.

At 22, after being beaten and raped by a drug-addicted ex-boyfriend, Naomi ran with her children to Kentucky, where they were living on welfare, intermittently without heat or electricity while trying to get through nursing school.

During those years, Wynonna said she was largely left alone to raise her younger sister while her mother was away trying to make ends meet around the clock.

Speaking on Larry King Live in 2005, Wynonna shared how as a child she lived with the “key around her neck,” letting herself come and go while her mom was at work or school.

“We were on welfare so she was away a lot and I feel like I raised Ashley. I mean mom gave her birth but she’s kind of mine.

Naomi holds daughter Ashley and puts an arm around Wynonna

Naomi holds daughter Ashley and puts an arm around Wynonna

When Naomi was home, she played guitar and sang with Wynonna, whose talent as a singer was quickly revealed. The couple eventually landed a record deal after recording a demo together and giving it to a patient of Naomi’s who had connections in Nashville.

Their success was almost immediate, and by the time Wynonna turned 18, they began touring as their records climbed the charts. They split their income 50-50, and Wynonna found it difficult to cope with affluent wealth after living with nothing for so long.

“I’ve travelled, taken friends, chartered jets. I loved the great rock star lifestyle,” she told Good Morning America.

Wynonna would eventually go bankrupt and check herself into money management rehab in 2003.

Wynonna and Ashley in 1986

Wynonna and Ashley in 1986

Wynonna, Ashley and Naomi Judd together in Hollywood

Wynonna, Ashley and Naomi Judd together in Hollywood

As a child, Wynonna often turned to food for comfort. During her touring years, she developed body image issues while comparing herself to the lithe forms of her mother and sister.

“I’m standing here with Mom and Ashley and I feel like I don’t belong,” she told Oprah Winfrey in 2006. “I never felt like I belonged.”

Naomi told Oprah she wasn’t as likable as [she] could have been.’

“My prayer is that she will truly become a detective in her life and take a step back and ask what’s going on emotionally with her when she goes into the kitchen,” she said.

Naomi and Wynonna Judd on stage in Las Vegas in 2015

Naomi and Wynonna Judd on stage in Las Vegas in 2015

Wynonna and mother Naomi in a promotional photo

Wynonna and mother Naomi in a promotional photo

When Wynonna turned thirty and learned the truth about her father, a great rift arose between mother and daughter.

Growing up, Naomi Wynonna had always said that she and Ashley shared the same father because she wanted to keep their sense of family.

“I don’t know that I’ve thought about it every day of my life, but there’s certainly been a very few days that I haven’t lived with that secret, and I think it does something about a kid,” Naomi told Oprah.

Wynonna characterized the experience as traumatic.

“The first thing I said was, ‘It’s okay.’ And of course I’m raging inside. And I just realized nine years later that I’m really angry,” she said.

Naomi and Wynonna Judd attend the 2022 Country Music Awards

Naomi and Wynonna Judd attend the 2022 Country Music Awards

Naomi and Wynonna Judd share the stage in 2011

Naomi and Wynonna Judd share the stage in 2011

Wynonna and Naomi both described their relationship as so close that they often had to stay apart to avoid getting too emotional about their lives.

“Wynonna and I get so emotional with each other that it’s not healthy,” Naomi told PEOPLE in 2016.

“We’re so empathetic, we can look at each other and hug each other and cry without saying a word. We scare each other because we can go so deep.’

She told Good Morning America that they needed to take intermittent breaks from each other to protect their own sanity.

“I love her, but sometimes we just need a break from each other. We’re still a little estranged,” Naomi told Good Morning America, “and that’s what happens with mother, daughters. When she sees this, and I hope she does, because the smartest thing is that no matter what’s going on, we all feel known.

Ashley and Wynonna Richter speak during a tribute to their mother after her death in 2022

Ashley and Wynonna Richter speak during a tribute to their mother after her death in 2022

Naomi’s suicide note insisted Wynonna be barred from her funeral – and claimed she was mentally ill.

The Post-it style paper was found near the 76-year-old’s body after she shot herself at her Tennessee mansion.

It said, “Don’t let Wy come to my funeral. She’s mentally ill.” The word “not” seemed to have been underlined.

The note was among a series of documents released this week by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department.

Wynnona attended the funeral, a source told Radar Online, and believes the note was written when her mother was not in her right mind.

Naomi also had Wynonna and Ashley written out of her $25 million will.

She chose instead to bequeath every bit of her vast fortune to her widow, Larry Strickland.

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