CMT and Sandbox Live will honor the life and career of the late Naomi Judd with the airing of the public memorial service “Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration,” live from Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on Sunday, May 15, at 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT.
The commercial-free special will be hosted by Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts and will include Naomi’s daughters, Wynonna and Ashley Judd. Ashley McBryde, Brandi Carlile, Emmylou Harris and Allison Russell, Little Big Town and The Gaithers are all scheduled to perform.
There will also be special messages from Bono, Morgan Freeman, Oprah Winfrey and Salma Hayek.
The celebration will be executive produced by CMT’s Margaret Comeaux and Leslie Fram, as well as Sandbox Entertainment’s Jason Owen and Ladypants Productions’ Patrizia DiMaria.
“We are sincerely privileged to work alongside Wynonna, Ashley and Larry to present this live celebration of life for their mother and wife Naomi,” CMT producers said in a statement. “While we all continue to deeply mourn the loss of such a legendary artist, we are honored to commemorate her legacy alongside the country community, her friends, family and legions of fans across the world at the perfect venue: The Mother Church of Country Music. This special will celebrate her timeless voice, unforgettable spirit and the immense impact she left on our genre through the best form of healing we have – music.”
Just weeks prior to Naomi Judd’s death on April 30 at age 76, The Judds’ final performance of their signature, Grammy-winning hit “Love Can Build a Bridge” aired on the 2022 CMT Music Awards. On May 1, one day after Judd’s death, sisters Wynonna and Ashley Judd honored their mother as The Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
On Thursday (May 12), Ashley Judd sat down for an interview with Good Morning America, where she revealed that her mother died by suicide.
“My mother knew that she was seen and she was heard in her anguish and that she was walked home,” Ashley said during the interview. “When we’re talking about mental illness it’s very important to be clear and to make the distinction between our loved one and the disease. It’s very real and it is enough to … it lies, it’s savage, and my mother, our mother couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers. That is the level of catastrophe that was going on inside of her. The barrier between the regard in which they held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart, and the lie the disease told her was so convincing.”
Ashley and Wynonna previously issued a joint statement when they revealed their mother’s death on April 30.
“We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered,” they wrote. “We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
As mother-daughter duo The Judds, Naomi and Wynonna earned 14 No. 1 songs on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart. The duo disbanded in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi Judd with hepatitis. The Judds’ hits included “Love Can Build a Bridge,” “Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not Me” and more.