Naomi Judd, the matriarch of the Judds’ iconic country music duo, was remembered in song during her public memorial service at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on Sunday.

The ceremony, called “A River of Time Celebration” after one of the Judds’ songs, aired live on CMT.


Judd died on April 30 at the age of 76, just one day before she and her oldest daughter Wynonna were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“It's so strange in a way to be here, but it seems so natural at the same time,” Judd said as she remembered her mother. “It feels natural to be with my family of choice. Tonight is a celebration, and at the same time, I can’t put into words how devastated I am.”

Judd performed "River of Time" and "Love Can Build a Bridge" solo. She was also joined by Brandi Carlile in singing Bette Midler’s "The Rose."

Naomi Judd A River of Time Celebration
Wynonna Judd, left, and Brandi Carlile perform during a tribute to country music star Naomi Judd Sunday, May 15, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn. Judd died April 30, 2022. She was 76. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Amid 2,500 roses, several musicians also performed in salute to Naomi Judd. Among them, the Gaither Vocal Band performed "How Beautiful Heaven Must Be," and Ashley McBryde powered through an emotional rendition of the 1984 Judds' single, "Love is Alive."

Near the end of the ceremony and in referencing lyrics of a gospel hymn, Judd announced she would fulfill the Judds’ 11-date national tour previously scheduled, saying, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

“I’m gonna have to honor her and do this tour. I’m just gonna have to,” she said. “The show must go on, as hard as it may be.”

Ashley Judd, Naomi’s youngest daughter, welcomed people to the ceremony and eulogized her mother as “an icon and a legend who left country music better than she found it.”

Naomi was also remembered for being beloved because she symbolized “every woman,” from being a victim of sexual violence and a single mother to being a nurse and a grandmother.


“She was totally extraordinary,” Ashley Judd added while acknowledging her mother’s country music accomplishments, including Hall of Fame status and five Grammy Awards.

Ashley Judd announced that the family lost its mother to “the disease of mental illness” via a post on Twitter. On Thursday, she shared that her mother died from a self-inflicted firearm wound.