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Getty Images | YouTube.com/Entertainment Tonight | YouTube.com/Good Morning America
Source: Getty Images | YouTube.com/Entertainment Tonight | YouTube.com/Good Morning America

Naomi Judd Planned Details of Her Funeral in Advance — Ashley & Wynonna Fulfilled Her Last Wishes

Junie Sihlangu
May 18, 2022
03:00 P.M.
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Wynonna and Ashley Judd, Naomi Judd's daughters, would've had a big task figuring out how to bury their beloved mother. However, the iconic songstress cut out the guesswork for her children in a unique way.

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On May 12, 2022, days after Naomi Judd died, her daughter, Ashley Judd, opened up to "Good Morning America" about her mother's death. In the interview conducted at Ashley's Tennessee home, it was revealed that the trio, including Wynonna, had lived minutes apart.

The actress explained how her family had decided to open up so soon after Naomi's death because they wanted to control the narrative. The family wanted to avoid lies, rumors, and gossip being spread in the media.

Ashley recalled the last day her mother was alive as a "mixed day." The actress shared how she visited Naomi and her stepfather, Larry Strickland, whom they called "pop," whenever she was in Tennessee.

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Her mother asked her to stay with her that day, and Ashley obliged. At one point, the actress went outside to bring in someone who had arrived who could comfort her mother, then went upstairs to inform Naomi.

That's when Ashley made the gruesome discovery that left her with trauma and grief. The second half of "The Judds" had taken her life using a weapon, leaving her children to mourn in private and in public.

NAOMI'S HEARTFELT MEMORIAL SERVICE & TRIBUTE SHOW

Naomi Judd performs at the Stagecoach Music Festival on May 3, 2008, in Indio, California. | Source: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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In Nashville, the country music icon had a private memorial service on May 7, 2022. "A few hundred" guests attended the event, including several celebrities like Vince Gill, Bono, Dr. Francis S. Collins, Dolly Parton, and Ricky Skaggs.

Parton was tasked with opening the ceremony, where she noted how one forgave family for their transgressions "for they know not what they do." The vocalist said family was accepted because one had no choice but to do so.

Wynonna Judd, Dolly Parton, and Naomi Judd pose for an image together on March 1, 1987. | Source: Robin Platzer/Getty Images

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Parton added how family was a mirror of what was best or worst in you, and you're always trying to do the former while your members tested you. She said you just had to pray to God to handle the rest.

Strickland and "The Imperials" performed "Sweet, Sweet Spirit," "Oak Ridge Boy"s sang "Amazing Grace" and "Farther Along," while "The Isaacs" took on "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow," "Mama's Teaching Angels How to Sing," and "It Is Well With My Soul."

Ashley Judd at the 29th Annual Conference of the Professional Businesswomen of California (PBWC) on April 24, 2018, in San Francisco, California. | Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Vince Gill sang "Drifting Too Far From the Shore" by "the Stanley Brothers," and Bob Weir and Guy Penrod also performed during the service. Bono appeared via video to recite a poem.

Naomi's brother, Mark Judd, was the one who delivered his sister's eulogy before the late star's daughters took the stage. Brandi Carlile closed the event by singing "Love Can Build a Bridge."

Wynonna Judd and Brandi Carlile perform onstage during the "Naomi Judd: 'A River Of Time'" Celebration on May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Mickey Bernal/Getty Images

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Pastor Dan Scott, who served at Christ Church Nashville, where Naomi attended church, also honored the late songstress. He sang "Ain't No Grave" while Ricky Skaggs performed "Talk About Suffering."

On May 15, 2022, Wynonna, Ashley, and Strickland joined together with more celebrities in tribute to Naomi's life at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The "Naomi Judd: A River of Time" event aired non-stop without commercials.

Wynonna Judd performs onstage during the "Naomi Judd: A River Of Time" Celebration on May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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Wynonna honored her mother by revealing that she'd continue with the 11-day national tour they were scheduled to do before Naomi's death. She explained how she just had to continue for her mother's sake.

The other half of The Judds told those in attendance that "the show must go on" no matter how hard it was. During the event where Allison Russell and Emmylou Harris performed, she vowed that they'd "show up together" and Naomi would carry her.

Allison Russell and Emmylou Harris perform onstage during the "Naomi Judd: A River Of Time Celebration" on May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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Ashley paid tribute to her late mother by singing "The Rose" by Bette Midler alongside Carlile. The actress described the event as a celebration but honestly revealed she couldn't find the words to express how devastated she was.

Later on, she sang her mother's song, "Love Can Build a Bridge," before confessing that she missed her parent. The whole moving event lasted for around 75 minutes as the guest mourned Naomi's April 30, 2022, death.

NAOMI PLANNED HER SERVICE

Ashley Judd onstage during the "Naomi Judd: A River Of Time" Celebration on May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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The legendary late star had planned her memorial service with music that leaned more toward gospel than country. Ashley and Wynonna confirmed that their mother had planned the event before her death, with the former adding:

“This is very much the service she wanted. She had it all written down, and so she took the guesswork out of it for us, which we thank her for.”

Larry Strickland, Ashley and Wynonna Judd onstage at the "Naomi Judd: A River Of Time" Celebration on May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Mickey Bernal/Getty Images

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During the "Naomi Judd: A River of Time" special, Ashley also said, "this is where Mom wanted her public celebration to take place." The actress revealed her mother had planned out all the details of her funeral.

The late star had even made sure to select each song she wanted to be performed. Naomi's song selection included her much-loved track, "Love Can Build a Bridge."

THE COUNTRY STARS WHO MOURNED NAOMI'S DEATH

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Carrie Underwood mourned Naomi's death by noting how country music had "lost a true legend," whom angels were was now singing her name. She shared how everyone was praying for the Judd family.

During his [Keith Urban] Manchester, England's O2 Apollo, the singer said he wanted to send a heartfelt acknowledgment to the influential late songstress [Naomi Judd].

Miranda Lambert also honored the late star by sharing a Twitter image where she and Wynonna sandwiched Naomi at an event. She said she was thankful for having spent some time with the icon.

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Lambert also described Naomi as a "true legend" and prayed for the Judds and Strickland to find peace while the late songstress rested easily. Reba McEntire also tweeted a throwback image of her with Naomi.

She acknowledged how they'd been "down the long road together" before confessing that she missed her buddy. McEntire asked the late musician to finally rest in peace before sharing her love.

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Tim McGraw sent his prayers and love to Naomi's daughters and the whole Judd family and said they were grieving with them and so many other people. In early May 2022, Keith Urban took the time to pay tribute to Naomi during a concert.

During his Manchester, England's O2 Apollo, the singer said he wanted to send a heartfelt acknowledgment to the influential late songstress. He then performed The Judds' "Love Can Build a Bridge."

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He described The Judds' input in the 1980s as "astounding" and added that Naomi was the matriarch and queen of that time. Urban also said the song Naomi had written was "pretty amazing."

On April 11, 2022, Naomi and Wynonna gave their final public performance as The Judds. At the time, the mother-daughter pair performed an extraordinary rendition of "Love Can Build a Bridge" at the CMT Music Awards.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.

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