The life and music of Naomi Judd was celebrated at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium last night, with the memorial airing live on CMT.
“Welcome to the mother church of country music, this is where mom wanted her public celebration to take place and thank you for being in community and in fellowship with us,” Naomi’s daughter Ashley said at the opening of the memorial. “Because we can pretend to care, but we cannot pretend to show up. Thank you for showing up for our mom.”
Ashley then went on to eulogize her mother, before introducing her sister Wynonna, who performed the first of several songs, “River of Time.” She later performed Bette Midler’s “The Rose” with Brandi Carlile, and The Judds’ classic “Love Can Build A Bridge,” with the help of the Christ Church Choir, and the audience of fans and celebrities.
Ashley, Wynonna and Naomi’s husband Larry Strickland also shared their thoughts with the crowd, with Larry talking about how Naomi never met a stranger, and how she would talk to anyone. He also read a letter that was sent to him by a stranger who shared a plane ride with Naomi as she was flying back to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She died the day before the ceremony.