Country Star Naomi Judd Talks Faith

Country music duo Naomi and Wynonna Judd sold 20 million albums, had 15 number one hits, and won the adoration of millions of fans in the 80’s. As Naomi shares in her book River of Time, her rise to superstardom took her on a very troubled journey.

SCOTT ROSS:  “You loved your daddy?”

NAOMI JUDD: “Very much.”

SR:  “But at one point at some juncture he left your family? Was that it? And that did a number on you.”

NJ:  “That’s your bedrock for all your future relationships and that’s your security when you’re a kid.”

SR:  “So you lost that?”

NJ:  “I lost it because Daddy left us for a younger girl.”

SR:  “So your mother wasn’t exactly demonstrative in her love towards you either, was she?”

NJ:  “No.  I don’t ever remember my mom being in my bedroom. There were no bedtime stories. There was –I don’t remember her telling me she loved me./ She was a good woman. She is a good woman, she’s in a nursing home now. “

SR:  “How did that work out in your personal relationships as you got older …. How could you express love if you had never experienced love?”

NJ:  “You’ve read the book. [laughs]

SR: “You know what, I really did, from cover to cover. I’ve got it all underlined.”

NJ:  “Cuz you know what’s comin’ – I picked guys that were completely, not just inappropriate, but dangerous. When I was 22 years old, I had already had some bad relationships. “

By then she had been date raped, married, and several years later, divorced. Naomi did her best to make it as a single mom to two little girls, Wynonna and Ashley.

SR:  “But the sacrifices you made in raising those two girls. You were living in –out of soup cans. Roach-infested motels, all kinds of –how did you pull that off?”

NJ:  “I barely had a high school diploma, so I had no job skills and I was having to support the three of us and I was working minimum wage jobs and just—sometimes I’d get a paycheck behind, think we were going to have to live on the streets. But I had to be cheerful for the kids.  I always had, you know, in the book of Hebrews, I think it’s chapter 11, verse 1, where it says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I always had this sense that there was something on the other side. That there was something better.”

SR:  “Where did music come into the picture?”

NJ:  “Well, we started playing guitar and singing songs, Wynonna and I. Frankly, she was 12 and we couldn’t even talk to each other sometimes. But the most incredible thing happened. We could sing together.”

In 1979, Naomi moved her family to Nashville, hoping to break into country music. In 1983, she and Wynonna landed their first recording contract - and soon tasted all that comes with stardom.

SR: “Was applause of strangers, for the most part, but fans, people who met you, surrounded by all that fame, fortune, awards. Did that do it for you?”

NJ:  “I loved it. I loved every second of it. it was such a wild adventure, seeing a different city every time you woke up in the morning, getting to play Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall. And then to meet all these people that I’d only seen on TV or heard on the radio, it was –you can’t even make this fantasy up. “

Also during that time, she married the love of her life, Larry Strickland. Then in 1991, at the peak of their career, Naomi stunned her fans when she announced she had hepatitis C and had to retire. Many years later, she battled severe depression.

SR:  “So when that is removed from you, where does it leave you and the next day or the next month, no more of these moments while you’re dealing with real life.”

NJ:  “The phone never rang. Got so bad, I was actually suicidal. (SR: Suicidal?) Yep. “

SR:  “And you were in your bathroom looking in the mirror at yourself with a gun at your temple—however, it was not loaded. But your husband walked in and saw that.”

NJ:  “Larry’s a very spiritual man and he’s a pastor’s kid. And that’s when he grabbed me and started talking to me. And he said the real identity is not being Wynonna or Ashley’s mom or being THE Naomi Judd. Your real identity is your spiritual being. And every problem, if you’re a spiritual being, every problem has a spiritual solution. And we need to find that for you.”

SR:  “How did you come through that period, though. I mean, what—you had a lot of care and treatment and so forth. “

NJ:  “I’m certainly not ashamed to say that I was on some anti-depressant medications. I believe there are times in life where we have to raise our hand and say I need help. I found a good doctor.”

SR:  “God, Jesus, said I’ll never leave you nor forsake you. Do you think that’s true?”

NJ:  “Yeah. We forget, we have a short memory and we’re human. This morning my Scripture was Isaiah 26:3, which said, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee for he trusteth in Thee.”

Naomi has since beat hepatitis and learned how to overcome depression. With her book and public appearances, she wants to help others find their way out too.

NJ:  “I have faith, I believe in God and I’ve gotten through all this stuff because of those three things: my faith, my hope and my belief in an eternal God.”

SR:  “Thank you.”

NJ:  “Thank you."

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