The Judds were formally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday, May 1st in the private Medallion Ceremony held at the Hall of Fame in Nashville. With the passing of Judds matriarch Naomi Judd just the day before, it cast a pall over the often joyous event, which also saw Ray Charles, drummer Eddie Bayers, and steel guitarist Pete Drake formally inducted into the Hall of Fame as well.
Naomi Judd’s passing also brought extra interest and emphasis to the event, since it was the first time Naomi Judd’s famous daughters Wynonna and Ashley were appearing in public after the tragic news.
Outside of the Hall of Fame entrance where fans had gathered to watch country music dignitaries file in, a white floral bouquet had been placed with a small picture of Naomi Judd, and a solitary rose was placed on the ground.
Since the Hall of Fame continues to not allow for public broadcast of the ceremony, and only selectively releases clips of the full archived video of the event, fans of The Judds and other inductees have been mostly resigned to piecing together the events of the evening from the various accounts of those in attendance, including a 1:50 clip of certain portions of the induction posted by the Associated Press.
But luckily, local Nashville ABC affiliate WKRN News 2 posted the entirety of the induction of The Judds to the Country Music Hall of Fame on Monday (5-2), including (most of) the induction speech by fellow Kentuckian Ricky Skaggs, Ashley Judd’s full speech, as well as Wynonna’s, who also recited Psalm 23, which she said the entire family also recited around her mother when they discovered her on Saturday.
“At 2:20, I kissed her on the forehead and I walked away, and this is the first place I’ve been,” Wynonna told the crowd.
When announcing the passing of their mother, Wynonna and Ashley Judd said in a statement, “Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness. We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
This has led to speculation that Naomi Judd died of suicide, of which Naomi had pondered in the past as part of her open battles with Severe Treatment Resistant Depression. On Monday evening, some outlets began reporting that Naomi had indeed died of suicide citing unnamed sources. However, this information has not been confirmed by any named sources either from the family, or representatives of the family, or any government officials or entities. The suicide declaration may be assumed, inferred, or even inevitable in the future. But Saving Country Music is not confirming the cause of Naomi Judd’s death at this time, while remaining in contact with local officials and family representatives.
Unfortunately, much of the rest of the 2022 Hall of Fame induction ceremony remains unreleased, including the induction of Ray Charles, which is a historic moment for country music, and the Hall of Fame as Ray is only the 3rd Black performer to ever receive Hall of Fame induction along with Charley Pride and DeFord Bailey.
However, Saving Country Music did discover a 2:25 clip of various parts of the Ray Charles induction posted by Africa News. It does offer some good context, including The War & Treaty performing in tribute, and fellow blind performer Ronnie Milsap speaking about Ray Charles.
The Country Music Hall of Fame continues to take the archaic stance of not broadcasting either the audio or video of the Medallion Ceremony, or making this media available in full for future broadcast or even purchase, even though professional audio and video production is part of the presentation, and archived by the Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is an annual opportunity to promote both the Hall of Fame, and their entertainers and contributors being inducted.
Luckily though, WKRN stepped up to make sure this historic moment of The Judds induction the day after the death of Naomi can be experienced by all country music fans.