The special, titled, Naomi Judd: A River Of Time Celebration aired commercial free from Nashville’s “Mother Church,” the Ryman Auditorium and featured a star-studded line-up of performances.
Wynonna, who also honored her mother in song, shared words of remembrance beside her younger sister, actress Ashley Judd and Naomi’s husband, singer Larry Strickland.
Strickland spoke first, sharing an email he received from a fan following his wife’s death, noting that she “never met a stranger.”
“I got this email, uh, not long after we lost her,” Strickland said. “And this email was such a relief and comfort for me and I want to read it to you now because it typifies what I just said about her never meeting a stranger,” he added, before sharing the message’s contents.
“Larry, you don’t know me, we’ve never met, but I was fortunate enough to meet your late wife recently, who for some reason only she knew, gave me your card,” the message began. “On Friday of last week, I was flying through Chicago to Nashville and sat next to Naomi. Being a bit of a country and western Philistine, I had no knowledge of who she was, her accomplishments, or her achievements. And it’s safe to say that the next 90 minutes we spent in each other’s company was not only entertaining, fascinating, and enlightening, but also, for me at least, thoroughly enjoyable.”
“It’s a small comfort, I’m sure, but my life seems a lot richer after meeting your wife, however briefly, and I cannot begin to even contemplate, let alone understand, how difficult things must be for you right now, I’m truly sorry for your loss,” the message continued.
“Obviously I didn’t know Naomi at all but she spoke highly and warmly of you and the life you shared together. Rest assured she loved you and had no qualms about telling me, a stranger on a plane, that was so. I do hope you forgive this intrusion from a complete stranger at this difficult time, but it’s a measure of the impact your wife had on me that I felt compelled to write. My deepest sympathies and best regards,” the message concluded.
Ashley Judd spoke next, thanking her late mother’s dedicated fans for their cards and support as well as sharing how much Naomi loved them. In addition, Ashley said how much her mother loved her family, including her daughters, husband, and grandchildren.
Wynonna concluded the tributes, bringing humor to the memorial and ending the love-fest her younger sister started by saying she didn’t have to “share a tour bus” with their mother.
The CMT special in honor of Naomi Judd featured performances from Brad Paisley, Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce, Little Big Town, and others. In addition, Judd’s friends, including Oprah Winfrey, Salma Hayek, Reese Witherspoon, and Bono recalled their memories of the singer via videos that played during the special.
During the special in honor of her mother, Wynonna revealed she would still go on the tour that was announced prior to Naomi’s passing, saying it’s what she “would have wanted.”