Judds, The

Website: http://www.wynonna.com/judds.htm

Freshly divorced, Naomi Judd (Born Diana Ellen Judd, 11 January 1946, Ashland, Kentucky, USA) moved with her daughters Wynonna (Born Christina Ciminella, 30 May 1964, Ashland, Kentucky, USA) and Ashley from California back to Morrill, Kentucky, where she worked as a nurse in a local infirmary. Outside working and school hours, she and the children would sing anything from bluegrass to showbiz standards for their own amusement. However, when Wynonna nurtured aspirations to be a professional entertainer, her mother lent her encouragement, to the extent of moving the family to Nashville in 1979. Naomi's contralto subtly underlined Wynonna's tuneful drawl. While tending a hospitalized relation of RCA Records producer Brent Maher, Naomi elicited an audition in the company's boardroom. With a hick surname and a past that read like a Judith Krantz novel, the Judds - so the executives considered - would have more than an even chance in the country market. An exploratory mini-album, which contained the show-stopping "John Deere Tractor", proved the executives correct when, peaking at number 17, "Had A Dream' was the harbinger of 1984"s "Mama He's Crazy", the first of many country chart-toppers for the duo. The Judds would also be accorded a historical footnote as the earliest commercial manifestation of the form's "new tradition' - a tag that implied the maintenance of respect for C&W's elder statesmen. This was shown by the Judds" adding their voices to Homecoming, a 1985 collaboration by Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins (who later co-wrote Naomi and Wynonna's 1989 smash, "Let Me Tell You About Love'). The Judds" repertoire also featured revivals of Ella Fitzgerald's "Cow-Cow Boogie", Elvis Presley's "Don't Be Cruel" and Lee Dorsey's "Working In A Coal Mine". Self-composed songs included Naomi's 1989 composition "Change Of Heart', dedicated to her future second husband (and former Presley backing vocalist), Larry Strickland. Maher too contributed by co-penning hits such as 1984"s Grammy-winning "Why Not Me", "Turn It Loose", "Girls Night Out' and the title track of the Judds' second million-selling album, Rockin" With The Rhythm Of The Rain. The team relied mainly on songsmiths such as Jamie O'Hara ("Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout The Good Old Days)"), Kenny O'Dell ("Mama He's Crazy"), Mickey Jupp, Graham Lyle and Troy Seals ("Maybe Your Baby's Got The Blues") and Paul Kennerley ("Have Mercy", "Cry Myself To Sleep").

Most Judds records exhibited an acoustic bias - particularly on the sultry ballads selected for Give A Little Love. They also demonstrated a penchant for star guests that included the Jordanaires on "Don't Be Cruel", Emmylou Harris on "The Sweetest Gift" (Heartland), Mark Knopfler on his "Water Of Love" (River Of Time) and Bonnie Raitt playing slide guitar on Love Can Build A Bridge. In 1988, the pair became the first female country act to found their own booking agency (Pro-Tours) but a chronic liver disorder forced Naomi to retire from the concert stage two years later. Naomi and Wynonna toured America in a series of extravagant farewell concerts, before Wynonna was free - conveniently, cynics said - to begin her long-rumoured solo career. This she did in style, with a remarkable album that touched on gospel, soul and R&B, and confirmed her as one of the most distinctive and powerful female vocalists of her generation.

In 1999, Wynonna reunited with her mother for a New Year's Eve concert in Phoenix, Arizona. The following year the duo recorded four new tracks for a bonus disc issued with Wynonna's New Day Dawning, and undertook a multi-city tour. The results were issued as Reunion Live. Often excellent but overly cloying, the album celebrated the achievements of the past rather than the possibilities for the future.

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