What the Media Isn’t Telling You About Naomi Judd’s Life of Faith
By Movieguide® Staff
On April 30, country legend Naomi Judd died of “mental illness” at age 76, after years of battling depression.
However, in a recent report published in GetReligion, journalist Terry Mattingly highlighted the media’s blatant cold shoulder towards Judd’s life of faith and focus on her “dark nights.”
“Naomi Judd stressed that if people — journalists included — want to understand country music, and the relationship between the musicians and their fans, they need to remember that it’s normal, in a country music show, ‘to sing about Sunday morning, as well as Friday and Saturday nights,'” Mattingly wrote.
Mattingly notes that the outlets that covered Judd’s death—and her daughter’s appearance at their late mother’s Country Music Hall of Fame ceremony—had a particular focus.
“Most of the press coverage of Judd’s death skated around the faith details, while stressing — with good cause — the tragic elements of this drama,” Mattingly reported. “In other words, the stories placed the emphasis on Friday and Saturday night, without getting to Sunday morning at the Charismatic churches that The Judds call home.”
But in 1993, Mattingly wrote an unpublished column that discussed Judd’s testimony of faith, a Sunday morning to her life of hardships.
Naomi Judd is not your typical Bible Belt matriarch.
“I think people know that Wynonna was conceived when I was 17 and unmarried,” she said, relaxing in her tour bus after the book-signing event. “They’ve got to know that – living all over America like I did, with the two kids, during the U-Haul-it years – some pretty hairy things went down. But I also think they know that I didn’t get to be 47-years-old without learning a few things. I say that experience sort of gives us the tests first, and the lessons come afterwards.”
Naomi Judd has survived fire, floods and earthquakes. She has been raped and sexually harassed. She has moved from her Appalachian homeland to Bohemian California – more than once. She has been on welfare and socialized with millionaires. She has been chased by madmen and flirted with superstars. Today, Wynonna remains a country music superstar and Naomi’s younger daughter, Ashley, is one of Hollywood’s hottest actresses.
There’s no escaping paradoxes, said Naomi. But The Judds have always tried to take their problems to church and their sins to God. Many of their fans respect that approach to life because it’s their own, she said.
This has created an unusual bond. For many, The Judds are both celebrities and Christian examples, flaws and all, for their families – a rare combination in American popular culture.
“Wynonna and I believe in marriage, and faith, and family, and fidelity. That’s what we have been searching for. I think many people see that search in their own lives,” said Naomi.
“People do know that I’ve done a lot of living and I know what I’m talking about. … I’ve always said that if I had to go to a detox center – for drugs, or alcohol or whatever – I’d want a counselor who once was worse off than me. Don’t give me somebody who just talks that talk. Give me someone who has lived it.”
Even as she was dying, Judd was surrounded by faith. Her daughters recited the 23rd Psalm over her before she died:
The LORD is my shepherd; I have what I need.
He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters.
He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD as long as I live.