Wynonna Judd made her mark in the music industry as a celebrated country singer, while at the same time living with a domineering and eccentric mother, enduring battles with her weight, and committing to a life in the public eye. Judd and her mother Naomi shot to fame in the 1980s as the Grammy Award-winning duo, The Judds. Their homespun harmonies and heartfelt lyrics, evidenced by their classic country tracks such as "Why Not Me" (1984) and "Love Can Build A Bridge" (1990), won the hearts of millions. After her mother retired from music due to health issues, Judd achieved similar success as a solo artist, beginning with the release of her hit debut album, Wynonna (1992). Her professional accomplishments were only half of Judd's story, as the other half involved the turbulent relationship she had with her mother and collaborator. Armed with an unflinching, honest personality, Judd shared her personal struggles and constant friction with her mother as a frequent guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (syndicated, 1986-2011). In 2011, Judd and her mother reunited for a long awaited comeback tour and the documentary series "The Judds" (OWN), which gave an insightful and intriguing look into the life of the country music legends, and followed that as a 2013 contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ), showing that Judd continued to triumph through numerous adversities.
She was born Christina Claire Ciminella on May 30, 1964 in Ashland, KY, named after Michael Ciminella, the man whom her mother married after Judd's biological father, Charles Jordan, abandoned the family. Her mother, registered nurse Naomi, gave birth when she was just 18 years old. Judd had a younger half-sister named Ashley, who went on to act in critically acclaimed films such as "Heat" (1995) and "Kiss the Girls (1997). As the eldest of Naomi's children, Judd was largely influenced by her mother's love of country music. In 1979, Judd moved to Nashville, TN with her mother in pursuit of a professional music career. RCA Records signed the mother-daughter duo in 1983 and released their debut album, Wynonna & Naomi that year. They topped the album charts with their sophomore release, Why Not Me, which spawned the No. 1 singles "Mama He's Crazy" and "Why Not Me." Fueled by their sweet melodies and Southern charm, The Judds earned their first Grammy Award in 1985 for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Mama He's Crazy" and went on to dominate in the same category for the next several years. They also won top honors during the 1980s and early '90s at the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and Country Music Association (CMA) awards. In 1990, The Judds released Love Can Build a Bridge, their final album as a duo, which scored another Top 10 for the title track.
Contracting hepatitis C at the age of 46 forced Naomi to shockingly retire from the music business, opening the door for her daughter to pursue a solo career. She released her self-titled debut in 1992 and once again hit the top of the country charts with the lead single, "She is His Only Need." Her follow-up album, Tell Me Why (1993) peaked at No. 1 on the country album chart and yielded five consecutive Top 10 singles, including the Mary Chapin Carpenter-written track, "Girls with Guitars." Her powerful vocals and commanding stage presence helped Judd succeed as a solo artist. She added producer to her résumé with her fifth album, New Day Dawning (2003), where she explored other genres of music, including even rock and dance pop. The album included the singles "You Are," which was previously featured in the soundtrack of Judd's sister Ashley's film "Someone Like You" (2001), and "Flies on the Butter (You Can't Go Home Again)," which Naomi sang backup vocals on. Judd gave acting a try several times throughout her career, landing guest-starring roles on the drama series "Touched by an Angel" (CBS, 1994-2003) and the comedy "Hope & Faith" (ABC, 2003-06).
Her success in the entertainment industry eclipsed the tumultuous relationship between Judd and her mother. Even though Judd sang lead vocals, it was widely reported that Naomi essentially ran the show throughout their career as a country duo. The family matriarch controlled every aspect of their work and often criticized Judd's performances and personal life. The singer also had a lifelong battle with her weight, a subject that her family never discussed until 2004, when she appeared along with Naomi and sister Ashley on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Judd's public cry for help prompted her mother to confess on the show that she was aware of her daughter's health issues, yet she did not try hard enough to help her. Such personal and candid interviews were just one of Judd's 17 appearances on Winfrey's hit daytime talk show, where she (often with her mother) revealed the bickering with Naomi, her dependency on food and alcohol, and sibling rivalry.
The new millennium brought an onslaught of personal dilemmas for Judd; from a DUI arrest in 2003, to her filing for divorce in 2007 after her estranged husband D.R. Roach was charged with three counts of aggravated sexual battery against a minor. Judd published two New York Times bestsellers: a candid memoir in 2005 titled Coming Home to Myself and the novel "Restless Heart" in 2011. In April of that year, Judd and her mother reunited for the docu-series "The Judds" on Winfrey's network, OWN. Cameras followed the outspoken mother-daughter duo as they prepare for their first tour together in 10 years. Days before the show premiered, Judd's sister Ashley released her memoir All That is Bitter & Sweet (2011) and claimed as a child, she was a victim of sexual abuse and incest by an unnamed family member. During a promotional appearance on "The View" (ABC, 1997- ), Judd and her mother Naomi revealed that they were also victims of sexual abuse while growing up. Outside of music, Judd made guest appearances in 2010 in episodes of both "Kath & Kim" (ABC/Seven TV, 2002-07) and "Army Wives" (Lifetime, 2007-14), while in 2013 she was announced as a contestant on the 16th season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC, 2005- ). Meanwhile, her personal life took a positive turn when she married musician Cactus Moser at her Tennessee home in 2012, though their bliss was short-lived when Moser was in a motorcycle accident just two months later that resulted in his leg being amputated above the knee.
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Moved to Nashville, TN with mother Naomi Judd in pursuit of music career
Mother-daughter duo signed with RCA Records and released debut album <i>Wynonna & Naomi</i>
Won their first Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Mama He's Crazy"
The Judds released final album as duo <i>Love Can Build a Bridge</i>
Released self-titled debut, featuring lead single "She is His Only Need"
Follow-up album <i>Tell Me Why</i> topped country album chart and yielded five consecutive Top 10 singles
Released first compilation album <i>Collection</i>
Guest starred on CBS drama "Touched by an Angel"
Recorded song "You Are" for soundtrack of sister Ashley's film "Someone Like You"
Made record producing debut with <i>New Day Dawning</i>
Landed two-episode guest role on ABC sitcom "Hope & Faith"
Published bestselling memoir <i>Coming Home to Myself</i>
Reunited with mother for OWN documentary series "The Judds"
Debuted new band "Wynonna & The Big Noise" in Nashville, TN
Competed on 16th season of "Dancing with the Stars" (ABC) with professional partner Tony Dovolani