Hall of Fame Ceremony Is Emotional After Judd's Death

Naomi Judd's daughters Wynonna and Ashley accept her induction
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 1, 2022 9:19 PM CDT
Hall of Fame Ceremony Is Emotional After Judd's Death
Ray Charles sings "America The Beautiful," in the rain at Fenway Park in Boston, April 11, 2003.   (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)

Ray Charles and the Judds joined the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday in a ceremony filled with tears, music, and laughter, just a day after Naomi Judd died unexpectedly. The loss of Judd altered the normally celebratory ceremony, but the music played on, as the genre's singers and musicians mourned Judd while also celebrating the four inductees: The Judds, Ray Charles, Eddie Bayers, and Pete Drake. Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill, and many more performed their hit songs, the AP reports. Naomi and Wynonna Judd were among the most popular duos of the 1980s, scoring 14 No. 1 hits during their nearly three-decade career. On the eve of her induction, the family said in a statement that Naomi Judd died at the age of 76 due to “the disease of mental illness.”

Daughters Wynonna and Ashley Judd, who had asked that the ceremony go on as planned, accepted the induction amid tears, holding onto each other and reciting a Bible verse together. “I’m sorry that she couldn’t hang on until today,” Ashley Judd said of her mother to the crowd while crying. Wynonna Judd talked about the family gathering as they said goodbye to her and she and Ashley Judd recited Psalm 23. "Though my heart is broken I will continue to sing,” Wynonna Judd said. Fans gathered outside the museum, drawn to a white floral bouquet outside the entrance and a small framed photo of Naomi Judd below. A single rose was laid on the ground.

Charles' posthumous induction showcased his genre-defying country releases, which showed the genre's commercial appeal. The Georgia-born singer and piano player grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry and in 1962 released Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, which became one of the best selling country releases of his era. The piano player, blinded and orphaned at a young age, is best known for R&B, gospel, and soul, but his decision to record country music changed the way the world thought about the genre, expanding audiences in the Civil Rights era. The Hall of Fame also inducted two recording musicians who were elemental to so many country songs and singers: Bayers and Drake. (More on them here.)

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