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I Love Life: A Candid Conversation with Naomi and Ashley Judd

  While I was in the midst of an interview with country superstar Naomi Judd at the Grand Ole Opry’s WSM Radio in Nashville, the singer’s actress daughter walked in the studio.  Naomi told me, “You’re going to have the first interview Ashley and I have ever done together.”   From then on, the two celebrities were candid about their lives—long before the number one records, sold out concerts and successful movies.

 Naomi and Ashley never forget the tough times.  “For me,” Ashley remembered, “it was seeing mom in any kind of anguish.  As a child, you sense things and you have a certain amount of information—going to school and being exposed to the world on a certain level.  During times that I was aware we were really broke, there was so much stress in mom’s behavior—everything from the pitch in her voice to the look on her face.  All of this was usually accompanied (rather unfortunately) in a period of pop’s life when he wasn’t a faithful companion to mom.  Although I was only 12 years old, I could sense that things were sadly not the way they should have been.”

 As her daughter spoke about the family’s past, mother Naomi looked at Ashley and admitted, “I’m pretty ashamed of what was going on.  I was not a good example for my two young teen-age girls who were watching everything I did to pattern their future mates after.  I look at myself and ask, ‘who was that crazy Technicolor and dramatic woman with the red hair?’”

 Ashley interrupted Naomi with this response.  “But, mom, you don’t have to be ashamed.  You were in extraordinarily and trying situations.  You had a part of your youth taken away and didn’t live in the normal fantastic zestful way.  It just came up in you when you were a little bit older in whatever department it could.    That’s kind of what Loretta (Lynn) was talking about last night…At 35, she became a 15 year old…had 4 babies so young and was a grandmother by the time she was 29.”

 Perhaps, Naomi’s difficult and traumatic past helped her overcome what was diagnosed as a life threatening liver disorder.  The former nurse put it on the line with her doctors. “I said, no!  I’m going to step out in faith against all these temporary circumstances, against the headache from hell and against all the medical reports and tests…and it worked.  I began researching the connection between the mind and body when I was a nurse.  I knew about it on an intuitive and instinctual level.  During the Judd’s farewell tour, I met with some of the most brilliant minds in America.  I researched the mind body field and learned alternative medicine can save lives.”

 In light of the Judd’s’ success, Naomi told me what really matters are the two people she loves the most.  “Even though Ashley is this hot property as an actress and Wynonna is the best singer in the universe, I’m more proud of them as individuals than of their achievements.  All of us are a family with a whole lot of faith.  I’ve always known that I’m a child of the highest God.  That’s the bottom line.  It’s kind of as if we didn’t have anything but the Lord.  But that’s enough.  Perhaps, I said it best in my song, Love Can Build A Bridge.  What I was trying to do in the first verse is say that not only food, shelter and water are essential for human life, but hopes and dreams to me are absolutely just as essential.”

Michael Loccisano-Getty Images


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