Wynonna Judd commemorated the anniversary of her mother Naomi Judd’s death by giving her a special shoutout during her performance.
At the CMT Music Awards held in Austin, Texas over the weekend, Judd performed Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” alongside Ashley McBryde, pointing to the sky during the song and saying, “Mama, you need to be here.” She added, “I miss you, and I love you, and I don’t understand.” Last year, the singer and Naomi attended the CMTs together to do their first TV performance as their group The Judds in two decades. The performance ended up being the duo’s last as just a few weeks later Naomi died by suicide at age 76.
Ahead of her appearance on Sunday night, Judd told Entertainment Tonight that she was “going to use my time to talk to anyone out there who is struggling. It’s an opportunity to help somebody.” She went on to explain that this has been “a bittersweet time” in her life where she’s “got both agony and ecstasy happening” because while she’s still heartbroken over losing her mother a year ago, she’s also looking forward to seeing her granddaughter turn one later this month.
Following the performance, she spoke again with the outlet, explaining that her mother’s death is “an anniversary and we all have anniversaries. I’m not terminally unique.” She continued, “We all have something that we look at and go what the hell? What’s going on? I don’t understand and that was my ‘I don’t understand.’” In regards to shouting out Naomi on stage, Judd revealed, “I went back and forth between hitting a really high note and being a diva or saying what was on my heart, and it took over, so here we are.” The country music star also shared that she wants her mother’s death to remind people how necessary it is to prioritize their own mental health. “I want to help people,” she said. “It’s like, look at my face. Look at this face, if you’re having a crappy day, and just think, ‘If I can do it so can you,’ because it’s not easy.”
In September of last year, five months after Naomi’s death, Judd spoke openly about her immense grief over the loss of her parent and her decision to go forward with the final tour they had planned together. “This is my opportunity to step into a situation that I don’t know that I am ready to do what I’m about to do, but I think it’s going to heal me,” she explained to People. “I’m teaching what I want to learn, which is how to have peace and joy in a really negative [space]. I want people to know that they’re loved. I want people to know that there is hope.”
Judd also shared how she’s been coping with the loss, saying, “I’ll tell you what I know about death. In death, there is life. I feel both at the same time simultaneously. I feel joy and sorrow. I’m walking in paradox. I’m literally a walking contradiction. I feel joy. I feel pain. I feel light. I feel dark.” She concluded, “How am I coping? It depends on the [situation]. I’m on the phone talking and all of a sudden I’ll just begin to weep. Then 10 minutes later, I’m making a dinner and I’m talking to my husband about our Date Night. Then my granddaughter comes and I cry some more. I cry a lot. That’s okay…It doesn’t mean it’s a sign of weakness.”