‘Between hell and hallelujah’: Wynonna, performing Saturday at Nutter Center, discusses final Judds tour



It’s impossible to talk about the Judds Final Tour featuring Wynonna and Friends without mentioning the tragic passing of Naomi Judd last spring.

The tour, which makes a stop with Little Big Town at Wright State University’s Nutter Center on Saturday, Feb. 11, honors the life of the group’s matriarch and the career of one of the hottest country acts of the 1980s.

The Judds sold more than 20 million units and scored more than a dozen No. 1 country singles like “Why Not Me,” “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain” and “Have Mercy.” The duo won five Grammy Awards and nine Country Music Association Awards along the way.



The Judds’ Nashville reign ended when Naomi retired due to chronic hepatitis following a farewell tour in 1991. Wynonna moved forward, launching a successful solo career, but the story wasn’t over. The duo reunited for a tour in 2000 and another that carried over from 2010 to 2011. When Naomi died by suicide last April, plans were already in place for one last hurrah, the Judds Final Tour, in fall 2022.

Now, her daughter and longtime singing partner, Wynonna, is picking up the pieces of her shattered life with the support from fans, her family and talented friends like Little Big Town, Brandi Carlile and Tanya Tucker.

Wynonna recently answered some questions in advance of her appearance.

Q: What has it been like honoring your mom’s legacy and your career together?

A: It has been holy, but I originally said no. I wasn’t in a place where I could even think about it. I was in shock and denial but I’m grateful to have a purpose, which is to deal with this grief. It’s been really heavy, and it’s been really important. I’m just grateful for the fans, more so than ever. I’m somewhere between hell and hallelujah most days and I’m going with it because it’s part of the grieving process. I literally wrote a song recently with my producer-husband Cactus Moser called ‘Broken and Blessed’ and that’s me. The fans have literally lifted me and taken me to a place I wasn’t expecting during this process.

Q: What changed your mind about the tour?

A: Seeking council, both biblical and practical. My people spoke and it just made sense in all of this. When you don’t make sense, which I didn’t, it’s good to go to someone who does and hear from them. We all have our different realities. My reality was I can’t go without her and do this because it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s my mom and I was really stuck in the personal. Sometimes you’re drowning in the lake of you, and I had people to pull me out and say, “Well, this is an option.” And I chose that option.

Q: Where did the idea come from to invite special guests for the tour?

A: That came to us after we initially got the first response. Martina McBride said she would do anything to help so we reached out and a few other people came to my rescue. They said, “We are here and we want to celebrate you guys.” I was grieving and mourning her because she is my mom. I was stuck in the personal, but people started coming and saying, “We are here. We love you. You guys are icons.” People wanted to honor and celebrate this music. I started thinking, “Oh, my gosh, we’re part of the music industry.” I realized very early in the process of grieving there is the professional part of the Judds and I need to honor that. That just made sense to me.

Q: Can you describe the special guest rotation?

A: It changes each week. Little Big Town and Ashley McBryde signed up for three shows a week. Little Big Town will do all three of them and then Ashley or someone else will do all three. So, it’s Ashley McBryde, Tanya Tucker, Little Big Town, Brandi Carlile and Kelsea Ballerini. Everybody just came to the party and said they wanted to be a part of this. It’s almost too much of a good thing. You stand there and look around like, “Uh, this is really happening?” It’s pretty overwhelming, but it’s a good overwhelming. It’s like having the greatest birthday party you ever had.



Q: What’s your focus after the Judds Final Tour?

A: I’m making a record with my husband. We’re songwriting now and rehearsing the songs over and over and finding out what we’re going to record. It’s good because I have to remember, this is it, my dear. These shows are it so once that chapter closes, we must open another chapter.

Q: What’s it like working with Cactus after all this?

A: We’re closer than we’ve ever been and that’s because of all the things that have happened. It either makes you or breaks you. It has made us better songwriters. When I came up with the line, ‘I’m somewhere between hell and hallelujah,’ that’s pretty honest and real. It has made me a better songwriter because I’m able to allow myself to be more vulnerable because that’s just where I’m at. These songs have gotten me really thinking about what’s important in this life.

Q: When did you start writing songs for this next album?

A: We were working on it before mom left. My daughter had a daughter 10 days before that so now I’m a grandmother and I’m goofier than ever. It was all so crazy. There was all this stuff I was feeling with a newborn and going to a funeral. It was all happening at once. You don’t know the bottom of the ocean and you don’t know the bottom of depression and that’s what killed my mom. When you deal with life and death at the same time, you have to find things to do to remind you there is life after death. Some days are heaven, and some days are hell, so what are you going to do? You have to walk through it. You can’t go around it. You have to go through it.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or donthrasher100@gmail.com.


What: The Judds Final Tour featuring Wynonna Judd and Friends with Little Big Town

Where: Wright State University’s Nutter Center, 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Fairborn

When: Saturday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: Tickets start at $46.50

More info: 937-775-4789 or www.nuttercenter.com

Artist info: www.thejudds.com

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