For the month of October aka Artober, I had the opportunity to interview Wynonna Judd. As a child in the 80’s, I grew up listening to The Judds. It was truly an honor for me to feature her in this month’s Artist Spotlight.
Thanks Wynonna for the Artober Nashville shout out!
Wynonna, it is such a pleasure to interview you. You have an incredible 35-year career, with an astonishing 30-million albums sold and fans from all over the world who love your music. From your beginning as The Judds to now Wynonna & the Big Noise, I would say you are pure music royalty.
Would you agree that you are legend?
I have never been one to measure success by statistics or data. I’ve worked really hard at connecting to people through my music. I grew up in such a sweet time in the music world cherishing so many people that I ended up getting to work with from Merle Haggard to Tammy Wynette and George Jones to Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt. Those are the legends! Because I learned from the true greats in music, I always felt that my job as an artist was to connect to the heart of others.
What inspired you to become a musician?
I was born with the love of music in my bones! There is a scene in Disney’s “Lilo and Stitch,” on which I had the opportunity to work back in 2002, where Lilo is lying on the floor in her room listening to Elvis music on her little record player. That could have very well been a scene from my childhood as well! When the world didn’t get me, music did. It would take my spirit to a whole new place. When I heard Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton or Bonnie Raitt sing, I would be transformed. I always knew there would be something more for me in music and so I just picked up the guitar and sang from my toenails whenever possible. I would have never had the courage to put myself out there artistically if it were not for all the “sheroes” in my life, from Aretha Franklin to Joni Mitchell to Tina Turner and countless others who inspired me. They paved the way for me I truly believed that, through music, I could do anything!
How did it feel when The Judds received their first #1?
It was a true moment in time where the art was pure and music fans were really connecting to our stories. I didn’t quite fully understand what was happening at the time, other than the music was really resonating with the fans. It felt like I won the lottery in some ways, because I was getting to do what I had dreamed of doing for so long. It was such a sacred time!
Side Note: “Mama He’s Crazy,” released in 1984, was the first single by The Judds to reach No. 1 on the country singles chart.
You and your mom, Naomi, went on to have twenty Top Ten hits, including fourteen #1s, as well as being heralded with awards, including five Grammys. How did this experience shape your life as a solo artist?
The music was always evolving and I would have never believed that I could make it as a solo artist. My mom gave me roots and wings. On the one hand, I was worried about my mom’s health and wanted her to be okay and on the other hand, I was energized to try new things. The new music was so authentic to my soul at the time abut also really connected to all of the records we had made as The Judds. I am really grateful that the fans trusted me through this transition and so thankful the music connected with the audience.
Not many people would be surprised to know that you are a philanthropist. Tell me about your passion to give to others and what causes tug at your heartstrings.
I am so connected to people and their passions. It’s an honor to go and serve at Walter Reed or with charities all over the country to raise money and awareness, whenever and however possible…if I am asked and we can make it work, I always jump right in. It’s spiritual to me. I have been so blessed in my life, I really want to be a blessing to others. My husband and I are really involved in Steps of Faith which provides support in the form of limbs to amputees who couldn’t otherwise afford them. Cactus (my husband) lost his leg in a motorcycle accident 6 years ago, and it changed everything for us. Whatever it is that we are all called to do, service to others is the most important thing we can do to build stronger communities.
The Judds: Dream Chasers exhibit is on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame through July of next year. Did you and Naomi have any involvement on the pieces displayed in this exhibit? What is your favorite piece featured and why?
We did get involved in what was chosen and are honored to be included in this exhibit. The pieces that show our humble beginnings really bring big emotion to my heart. The fans really connected to us in a special way, that is what this is all about. We are all in it together. The Judds story represents the best in all of us. If we can do it, you can do it.
In 2011, you formed your current band, Wynonna & the Big Noise. You guys released your debut album in 2016. What makes this album different than previous ones?
It just made sense to step out on the limb musically and try to push myself in new ways. Making music with my husband (Cactus Moser) is just another one of those “dreams can come true” fantasies in my personal and professional life. The two of us have been through hell and back…but the music unites us. I’m finally a chick singer in a band!
Wynonna & the Big Noise has a show coming up at the Hall of Fame on October 11. Will you being playing mainly new songs off this album or a mix of old and new? Should the crowd expect any surprise guests for the evening?
It’s fun to do a hometown show and in such a sacred place as the Hall of Fame. We are honored to be able to perform there. But fasten your seatbelts, that’s all I’ve got to say. I’ve been waiting for a long time for this one!
You’re currently on tour through December, what’s next on the horizon for Wynonna?
Cactus and I are literally at the point where we are making music every day. I’m in the studio constantly, when we are not out on the road. We’ve thrown a Tom Petty cover or two in the mix this year during the tour shows and have created interesting new renditions of the hits people grew up treasuring. With Cactus, he likes to spice it up, and I feel more comfortable to try new things and honor these beautiful legends that came before us to light the way. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before and the world needs music from the heart, now more than ever.
Fun Facts About Wynonna:
What do you love most about living in Middle Tennessee?
I just love the people here. I am blessed to live in a community that truly honors the creative spirit in all of us.
Name your Favorite thing to do in Middle Tennessee.
I love being at home with my family and animals on our farm.
Favorite place to eat in Nashville?
My porch under the stars!
I have dogs, cats, horses and buffalo…they are all so special to me. My friends sometimes call me Wy-noah. I am a sucker for the unconditional love of my beloved pets. They have saved me from heartbreak many times. I even take a couple of dogs out on the road with us! They keep me sane while traveling!
Learn more about Wynonna at Wynonna.com.
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Five-time GRAMMY winner and New York Times bestselling author, Wynonna has always revolved her career around telling stories. Whether performing alongside her mother as one half of the legendary country duo The Judds, or pushing the boundaries on her own mega-successful solo path, Wynonna’s ability to reach the heart of the human spirit through her bold and unflinching honesty, is the entertainer’s true gift.
Respected by the millions of fans who are drawn to her music and undeniable talent, Wynonna’s rich and commanding voice has sold over 30-million albums worldwide spanning her remarkable 33-year career. Once dubbed by Rolling Stone as “the greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline,” this iconic performer has received over 60 industry awards, with countless charting singles, including 20 No.1 hits such as “Mama He’s Crazy,” “Why Not Me,” “Grandpa, (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Ole Days) and “No One Else on Earth.”