The Judds and Ray Charles joined the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday (May 1, 2022) in a ceremony filled with tears, music and laughter, just a day after Naomi Judd died unexpectedly.
The loss of Naomi Judd altered the normally celebratory ceremony, but the music played on, as the genre’s singers and musicians mourned Naomi 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.
“I’m sorry that she couldn’t hang on until today,” said a tearful Ashley Judd, according to an Associated Press report. The actress and sister Wynonna Judd were described as holding onto one another and reciting Psalm 23 together.
“I didn’t prepare anything tonight because I knew mom would probably talk the most,” Wynonna told the audience, according to Taste of Country. “I’m gonna make this fast, because my heart’s broken, and I feel so blessed. It’s a very strange dynamic, to be this broken and this blessed. … Though my heart’s broken, I will continue to sing, because that’s what we do,” she said.
Wynonna Judd gave more details on her mother’s death at the ceremony, the Tennessean reported. She said that Naomi died at 2:20 p.m. CT Saturday and described how she kissed her mother “on the forehead and walked away” after family members recited the aforementioned psalm together over her body.
Performers paid tribute to the Judds in song, including current top 10 country singer Carly Pearce doing the duo’s 1986 smash “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)” and the Americana duo of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings covering 1989’s “Young Love (Strong Love),” another No. 1 hit for the Judds. Tommy Simms sang “Love Can Build a Bridge.”