Skip to main content
Select Source:

Wynonna

Wynonna

Singer

The lead vocalist but very much the silent partner in country music's most successful duo of the 1980s, the Judds, Wynonna Judd found herself on her own, musically and emotionally, when her mother, Naomi, was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis in the fall of 1990. In the process of her transformation into a solo star, Wynonna discovered a new sense of personal independence and at the same time stepped out musically onto country's cutting edge. Indeed, Wynonna's popularity in the first years of her solo career equalled or surpassed the enormous success the Judds had achieved as a duo.

When she shed her last name, billing herself simply as Wynonna, the auburn-haired singer was indulging in something of a family tradition; for both Wynonna and Naomi Judd, remaking themselves has involved renaming themselves. Wynonna was born Christina Claire Ciminella in Ashland, Kentucky, in 1964. When her mother took the biblical name Naomi after her divorce in 1977, 13-year-old Christina decided to change her name as well. She got her new moniker from the lyrics to the old swing song "Route 66"—"Flagstaff, Arizona/Don't forget Wynona." Wynonna's childhood was spent partly in California, but it was in rural Kentucky, cut off from television reception, that she, her sister Ashley, and her mother began to entertain themselves by harmonizing around the kitchen table, trying to duplicate the pure mountain harmonies of Kentucky's classic bluegrass singers. Naomi Judd knew immediately that her daughter was a gifted vocalist.

The Judds moved to Nashville in 1979, and their rise to country-music stardom assumed the character of legend. Naomi, by then a registered nurse, found herself treating the daughter of Nashville producer Brent Maher and parlayed the connection into an audition at RCA Records. The Judds won over the assembled RCA staff at first hearing, and the duo went on to rack up a half dozen gold albums and 18 number one country singles between 1984 and 1990.

Often mistakenly classified as "new traditionalists," the Judds specialized in sentimental songs of love and nostalgia. But there was nothing traditional about Wynonna's singing; it has often been likened to that of blues-rock star Bonnie Raitt, with a low, sometimes growling, intensity equally suited to party songs like "Girls' Night Out" and folkish odes like "John Deere Tractor." Still, despite Wynonna's vocal dominance, it was Naomi who acted as spokesperson, organizer, and general sparkplug for the Judds. Wynonna "seemed to disappear between songs," noted Geoffrey Himes of Country Music magazine. So, when Naomi announced her departure from the group in October of 1990, Wynonna faced the challenge of remaking both her musical and personal selves.

Emotional Start to Her Solo Career

"I went through every possible emotion," Wynonna told Mary Murphy of TV Guide. "I felt terrified. I felt frustrated and resentful of the fact that ... all of a sudden–bam! My mother was gone. I didn't speak to Mama for a month. I had to leave home, you know, pack my bags, just take off.... It was the most alone I have ever been in my life, and the most depressed."

Under these conditions, the recording of Wynonna's debut solo album took on something of the character of therapy. "[We'd] sit there for three, four hours just talking about what was going on in her life," recalled top-level country producer/executive Tony Brown in an interview with Request's Keith Moerer. The selection of songs was painstaking, and in all Wynonna took eight months to record, by some accounts a record for a country album. But after all the work was done, Wynonna Judd emerged as a spectacularly successful solo act. She took a major risk with the first single: "She Is His Only Need" challenged the conventions of country radio with its wandering melody and four-and-a-half-minute length. Her gamble paid off as both single and album shot to the top of Billboard 's country charts. The disc even reached the number four position on the pop chart. Wynonna, without surname, had become a star in her own right.

"Trying to untangle and [yet] not sever the incredible layers of emotion that Mother and I share," as Wynonna was quoted as saying by Bob Millard in his book The Judds, has had great rewards, bringing the singer a new confidence and even a bit of brashness—once she eyeballed a fan trying to slip out early from one of her concerts and commanded him back to his seat. She enjoys riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, two of which travel with her on tour in a trailer behind her bus. Perhaps another indication of Wynonna's blossoming independence came when she broke off her engagement to country singer Tony King, telling Moerer, "I had just ended an eight-year relationship with Mom on the road, and I wasn't ready to enter into another partnership."

Wynonna's vocal style remained intact as her solo career matured, but her material, which she has always played an active role in selecting, had changed, her stylistic range expanded. In "I Saw the Light," from Wynonna, the title of Hank Williams's country-gospel classic is quoted, but it is expanded into the accusation of a woman who has discovered her lover's unfaithfulness; the song introduces a note of arch cleverness that had not been a part of the more straightforward Judds. Even farther afield, "No One Else on Earth" was one of the first country recordings subjected to the club remix treatment that became popular during country music's boom years in the mid-1990s. In fact, Wynonna's second album, Tell Me Why, released that year, featured an innovative mix of styles well beyond what most other country vocalists would attempt.

For the Record …

Born Christina Claire Ciminella on May 30, 1964, in Ashland, KY; changed name, 1977; daughter of Michael and Diana Ciminella (later Naomi Judd, a former nurse and singer); married Arch Kelley, 1996 (divorced, 1998); married D.R. Roach (a bodyguard), 2003; children: Elijah and Grace.

Lead vocalist of country duo the Judds, 1983-1991; solo artist, 1991–; released Wynonna, MCA, 1992; released Tell Me Why, 1993; signed with Curb/Universal label; released The Other Side, 1997; released New Day Dawning, 2000; reunited with mother Naomi Judd and toured as the Judds, 2000; released What the World Needs Now Is Love, 2003.

Awards: Grammy Awards, with The Judds, Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1991; has won over sixty industry awards.

Addresses: Record company—Curb/Mercury Nashville, 66 Music Sq. W., Nashville, TN 37203. Website—Wynonna Official Website: http://www.wynonna.com.

The album's title track was a middle-of-the-road soft-rock number composed by veteran folk-pop songwriter Karla Bonoff, while on "Rock Bottom," noted Country Music's Geoffrey Himes, Wynonna "invades Travis Tritt territory," southern-rock-style country. "Only Love," the second single from the disc, was a hushed, sophisticated pop love song, complete with a string section and unusual harmonic scheme; the video for thesong garnered substantial airplay on the CMT cable network. "Father Sun" displayed the splashy, keyboard-heavy rock sound and lyrically indirect religiosity of contemporary Christian music, whereas "I Just Drove By" was straight country and "That Was Yesterday" straight blues. "Girls With Guitars" partook of the combination of rock sound and country lyric wit pioneered by its composer, Mary-Chapin Carpenter. And in yet another stylistic change of course, the third single, a lush, heart-wrenching ballad called "Is It Over Yet," was as welcome to the ears of pop listeners as it was to those of their country counterparts.

Experimented with New Styles

Still, producer Brown was well aware of the dangers of moving Wynonna too far away from her country roots. "We have to think about not doing anything that would turn off Judds fans. You have to be smart about it, but at the same time, I didn't feel at any moment that our hands were tied," he explained to Moerer. Wynonna for her part insisted, "I'm always going to be country. I don't ever have any plans not to be country."

The public reacted as favorably to Tell Me Why as it had to Wynonna; the album sold a million copies within 15 days of its release and climbed rapidly to the number one position on the country charts. By the end of September, 1993, it had sold over three million copies. On a fall concert jaunt that year with country heartthrob Clint Black—the aptly named "Black and Wy" tour—Wynonna seemed poised to dispel her reputation as a weak concert draw, which she had acquired on her first outings after the nearly interminable Judds farewell tours. Critical reaction to Tell Me Why was generally favorable as well, with even the august rock journal Rolling Stone approvingly noting that the album was "comfortably packed with more emotions that most mood rings can handle." Country Music, however, dissented, opining, "Only three of the 10 songs ... capture the authoritative singer who stomped her way across our stages last summer."

Country Music held Wynonna to the loftiest standards: in its July/August, 1993, issue, the magazine ascribed to her "the potential to be the greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline." Not yet 30 years old at the time, she was still a developing artist, and there seemed few limits to what she might accomplish. Speculation as to the future aside, Wynonna had already reached an important personal plateau; as she told TV Guide, "I can go out in public and people don't say, 'Ooh, there's that girl that tried to make it on her own and didn't.'"

Indeed, she had already "made it." Even as she battled a variety of problems over the next decade of her career, she could count on a solid core of fans that never deserted her. Radio airplay for Wynonna singles became intermittent rather than constant, but none of her subsequent albums up to 2003's What the World Needs Now Is Love failed to crack the top ten of Billboard 's Country Albums chart. Revelations (1996), The Other Side (1997), and New Day Dawning (2000) also progressively capitalized on the crossover promise inherent in Tell Me Why, ascending to the upper reaches of Billboard 's general Billboard 200 chart and winning the singer fans from beyond the orbit of country music. The Other Side, noted the All Music Guide's Stephen Thomas Erlewine, found Wynonna "repositioning herself as a rootsy blues-rocker in the vein of Bonnie Raitt," and while Erlewine found the album "a true disappointment," it spread Wynonna's name in the pop world.

Continued to Make Headlines

Through much of the 1990s, Wynonna was as consistent a presence in the headlines as she was on the charts. After she had a son, Elijah, out of wedlock with boat salesman Arch Kelley in 1994, Wynonna was attacked as a poor role model by conservative country fans. The pair married in 1996, and their daughter, Grace, was born several months later. They filed for divorce, however, at the end of 1998 after Kelley experienced the feeling of being superfluous because of his wife's rigorous touring schedule. Wynonna's battles with physical problems—weight gain and asthma that had troubled her since childhood—were also well publicized.

In the early 2000s, Wynonna's career took an upward turn. She reunited with her mother Naomi, whose hepatitis was in remission, for a concert tour that began on New Year's Eve of 1999 in Phoenix, and the two recorded several sides (included on a limited-edition New Day Dawning bonus disc) as the Judds once again. What the World Needs Now returned Wynonna to the top of the country albums chart for the first time in a decade, and one of its single releases, a cover of the Foreigner hit "I Want to Know What Love Is" (itself an adaptation of an African-American gospel piece), cemented Wynonna's status as one of modern country music's few crossover-capable artists when it rose to number 14 on Billboard 's Adult Contemporary albums chart. Wynonna married her former bodyguard D.L. Roach on November 22, 2003, with her mother Naomi and sister Ashley in attendance, and observers waited to see what would come next from one of country music's most mercurial figures and most powerful musical adventurers.

Selected discography

Solo albums

Wynonna, Curb/MCA, 1992.

Tell Me Why, Curb/MCA, 1993.

Revelations, Curb/MCA, 1996.

The Other Side, MCA, 1997.

New Day Dawning, MCA, 2000.

What the World Needs Now Is Love, Curb, 2003.

With The Judds

Had a Dream, RCA, 1983.

Why Not Me, RCA, 1984.

Rockin' With the Rhythm, RCA, 1986.

Heartland, RCA, 1987.

Talk About Love, RCA, 1988.

Greatest Hits, RCA, 1988.

River of Time, RCA, 1989.

Love Can Build a Bridge, RCA, 1990.

Greatest Hits, Volume II, RCA, 1991.

The Judds Reunion Live, MCA, 2000.

Sources

Books

Judd, Naomi, Love Can Build a Bridge, Random House, 1993.

Millard, Bob, The Judds, St. Martin's Paperbacks/Doubleday, 1992.

Periodicals

Billboard, April 7, 1993; September 6, 1997, p. 36; January 8, 2000, p. 29.

Country Music, July/August 1993.

Detroit Free Press, May 10, 1993.

Entertainment Weekly, August 1993.

People, May 17, 1993; May 22, 1995, p. 64; February 5, 1996, p. 62; November 30, 1998, p. 78; January 17, 2000, p. 68; November 4, 2002, p. 115; December 8, 2003, p. 92.

Request, September 1993.

Rolling Stone, May 28, 1992; July 8, 1993.

TV Guide, July 3, 1993; September 25, 1993.

Online

"Wynonna Judd," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (September 3, 2004).

—James M. Manheim

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Wynonna." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Wynonna." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/wynonna

"Wynonna." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/wynonna

Wynonna

Wynonna

Singer

Shone as Judds Lead Vocalist

Triumph of Solo Debut

Stylistic Development

Sources

The lead vocalist but very much the silent partner in country musics most successful duo of the 1980s, the Judds, Wynonna Judd found herself on her own, musically and emotionally, when her mother, Naomi, was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis in the fall of 1990. In the process of her transformation into a solo star, Wynonna discovered a new sense of personal independence and at the same time stepped out musically onto countrys cutting edge. Indeed, Wynonnas popularity in the first years of her solo career equalled or surpassed the enormous success the Judds had achieved as a duo.

When she shed her last name, billing herself simply as Wynonna, the auburn-haired singer was indulging in something of a family tradition; for both Wynonna and Naomi Judd, remaking themselves has involved renaming themselves. Wynonna was born Christina Claire Ciminella in Ashland, Kentucky, in 1964. When her mother took the biblical name Naomi after her divorce in 1977, thirteen-year-old Christina decided to change her name as well. She got her new moniker from the lyrics to the old swing song Route 66Flagstaff, Arizona/Dont forget Wynona. Wynonnas childhood was spent partly in California, but it was in rural Kentucky, cut off from television reception, that she, her sister Ashley, and her mother began to entertain themselves by harmonizing around the kitchen table, trying to duplicate the pure mountain harmonies of Kentuckys classic bluegrass singers. Naomi Judd knew immediately that her daughter was a gifted vocalist.

Shone as Judds Lead Vocalist

The Judds moved to Nashville in 1979, and their rise to country-music stardom has gradually assumed the character of legend. Naomi, by then a registered nurse, found herself treating the daughter of Nashville producer Brent Maher and parlayed the connection into an audition at RCA Records. The Judds won over the assembled RCA staff at first hearing, and the duo went on to rack up a half dozen gold albums and 18 Number One country singles between 1984 and 1990.

Often mistakenly classified as new traditionalists, the Judds specialized in sentimental songs of love and nostalgia. But there was nothing traditional about Wynonnas singing; it has often been likened to that of blues-rock star Bonnie Raitt, with a low, sometimes growling, intensity equally suited to party songs like Girls Night Out and folkish odes like John Deere Tractor. Still, despite Wynonnas vocal dominance, it was Naomi who acted as spokesperson, organizer, and general sparkplug for the Judds. Wynonna seemed to disappear between songs, noted Geoffrey Himes of

For the Record

Born Christina Claire Ciminella, May 30, 1964, in Ashland, KY; changed name, 1977; daughter of Michael and Diana Ciminella (later Naomi Judd, a former nurse and singer).

Lead vocalist of country duo the Judds, 1983-1991; solo artist, 1991; released Wynonna, MCA, 1992.

Selected awards: Four Grammy awards; eight gold albums, two platinum albums.

Addresses: Record company MCA Records, 1514 South St., Nashville, TN 37212. Management Ken Stilts Co., 40 Fiberglass Dr., Mount Juliet, TN 37122.

Country Music magazine. So, when Naomi announced her departure from the group in October of 1990, Wynonna faced the challenge of remaking both her musical and personal selves.

I went through every possible emotion, Wynonna told Mary Murphy of TV Guide. I felt terrified. I felt frustrated and resentful of the fact that... all of a suddenbam! My mother was gone. I didnt speak to Mama for a month. I had to leave home, you know, pack my bags, just take off.... It was the most alone I have ever been in my life, and the most depressed.

Triumph of Solo Debut

Under these conditions, the recording of Wynonnas debut solo album took on something of the character of therapy. [Wed] sit there for three, four hours just talking about what was going on in her life, recalled revered country producer/executive Tony Brown in an interview with Requests Keith Moerer. The selection of songs was painstaking, and in all Wynonna took eight months to record, by some accounts a record for a country album. But after all the work was done, Wynonna Judd emerged as a spectacularly successful solo act. She took a major risk with the first single: She Is His Only Need challenged the conventions of country radio with its wandering melody and four-and-a-half-minute length. Her gamble paid off as both single and album shot to the top of Billboards country charts. The disc even reached the Number Four position on the pop chart. Wynonna, without surname, had become a star in her own right.

Trying to untangle and [yet] not sever the incredible layers of emotion that Mother and I share, as Wynonna was quoted as saying by Bob Millard in his book The Judds, has had great rewards, bringing the singer a new confidence and even a bit of brashnessonce she eyeballed a fan trying to slip out early from one of her concerts and commanded him back to his seat. She enjoys riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles, two of which travel with her on tour in a trailer behind her bus. Perhaps another indication of Wynonnas blossoming independence came when she broke off her engagement to country singer Tony King, telling Moerer, I had just ended an eight-year relationship with Mom on the road, and I wasnt ready to enter into another partnership.

Wynonnas vocal style remained intact as her solo career matured, but her material, which she has always played an active role in selecting, had changed, her stylistic range expanded. In I Saw the Light, from Wynonna, the title of Hank Williamss country-gospel classic is quoted, but it is expanded into the accusation of a woman who has discovered her lovers unfaithfulness, the song introducing a note of arch cleverness that had not been a part of the more straightforward Judds. Even farther afield, No One Else on Earth was one of the first country recordings subjected to the club remix treatment that rapidly gained popularity in 1993. In fact, Wynonnas second album, Tell Me Why, released that year, featured an innovative mix of styles well beyond what most other country vocalists would attempt.

Stylistic Development

The albums title track was a middle-of-the-road soft-rock number composed by veteran folk-pop songwriter Karla Bonoff. While on Rock Bottom, noted Country Musics Himes, Wynonna invades Travis Tritt territory, southern-rock-style country. Only Love, the second single from the disc, was a hushed, sophisticated pop love songcomplete with a string section and unusual harmonic schemethe video for which garnered substantial airplay on the CMT cable network. Father Sun displayed the splashy, keyboard-heavy rock sound and lyrically indirect religiosity of contemporary Christian music, whereas I Just Drove By was straight country and That Was Yesterday straight blues. Girls With Guitars partook of the combination of rock sound and country lyric wit pioneered by its composer, Mary-Chapin Carpenter. And in yet another stylistic change of course, the third single, a lush, heart-wrenching ballad called Is It Over Yet, was as welcome to the ears of pop listeners as it was to those of their country counterparts.

Still, producer Brown was well aware of the dangers of moving Wynonna too far away from her country roots. We have to think about not doing anything that would turn off Judds fans. You have to be smart about it, but at the same time, I didnt feel at any moment that our hands were tied, he explained to Moerer. Wynonna for her part insisted, Im always going to be country. I dont ever have any plans not to be country.

The public reacted as favorably to Tell Me Why as it had to Wynonna; the album sold a million copies within 15 days of its release and climbed rapidly to the Number One position on the country charts. By the end of September, 1993, it had sold over three million copies. On a fall concert jaunt that year with country heartthrob Clint Blackthe aptly named Black and Wy tourWynonna seemed poised to dispel her reputation as a weak concert draw, which she had acquired on her first outings after the nearly interminable Judds farewell tours. Critical reaction to Tell Me Why was generally favorable as well, with even the august rock journal Rolling Stone approvingly noting that the album was comfortably packed with more emotions that most mood rings can handle. Country Music, however, dissented, opining, Only three of the 10 songs... capture the authoritative singer who stomped her way across our stages last summer.

Truly, Country Music held Wynonna to the loftiest standards: in its July/August, 1993, issue, the magazine ascribed to her the potential to be the greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline. Not yet 30 years old at the time, she was still a developing artist, and there seemed few limits to what she might accomplish. Speculation as to the future aside, Wynonna had already reached an important personal plateau; as she told TV Guide, I can go out in public and people dont say, Ooh, theres that girl that tried to make it on her own and didnt.

Solo albums

Wynonna (includes She Is His Only Need and I Saw the Light, and No One Else on Earth), Curb/MCA, 1992.

Tell Me Why (includes Only Love, Rock Bottom, Father Sun, I Just Drove By, That Was Yesterday, Girls With Guitars, and Is It Over Yet), Curb/MCA, 1993.

(Contributor) Blue Christmas, The Christmas Album, Interscope, 1993.

With the Judds

Had a Dream, RCA, 1983.

Why Not Me, RCA, 1984.

Rockin With the Rhythm, RCA, 1986.

Heartland, RCA, 1987.

Talk About Love, RCA, 1988.

Greatest Hits, RCA, 1988.

River of Time, RCA, 1989.

Love Can Build a Bridge, RCA, 1990.

Greatest Hits, Volume II, RCA, 1991.

Sources

Books

Judd, Naomi, Love Can Build a Bridge, Random House, 1993.

Millard, Bob, The Judds, St. Martins Paperbacks/Doubleday, 1992.

Periodicals

Billboard, April 7, 1993.

Country Music, July/August 1993.

Detroit Free Press, May 10, 1993.

Entertainment Weekly, August 1993.

People, May 17, 1993.

Request, September 1993.

Rolling Stone, May 28, 1992; July 8, 1993.

TV Guide, July 3, 1993; September 25, 1993.

James M. Manheim

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Wynonna." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Wynonna." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/wynonna-0

"Wynonna." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/wynonna-0

Judd, Wynonna

WYNONNA JUDD

Born: Christina Ciminella; Ashland, Kentucky, 30 May 1964

Genre: Country

Best-selling album since 1990: Wynonna (1992)

Hit songs since 1990: "She Is His Only Need," "I Saw the Light"

As half of the popular duo the Judds, Wynonna Judd released some of the most commercially successful country singles of the 1980s, including the 1984 hits "Mama He's Crazy" and "Why Not Me?" As a solo artist Judd became increasingly adventurous as the 1990s progressed, incorporating elements of rhythm and blues, gospel, and hard rock into her work. Regardless of style, the quality that most distinguishes Judd's music is her remarkable voice: Bold, full-bodied, and expressive, it recalls soulful country singers of the past such as Patsy Cline.

Although they lived for several years in Los Angeles, the Judd familyWynonna, mother Naomi, and younger sister Ashleylater returned to their home state of Kentucky, where they lived in rural surroundings with no television or phone. Their main form of entertainment was listening to famed country program The Grand Ole Opry on the radio. Moving to Nashville in 1979, Naomi and Wynonna began making demo tapes on a thirty-dollar recorder purchased at K-Mart. After an audition in which Wynonna accompanied herself on acoustic guitar, the duo landed a contract with RCA Records. With Wynonna singing lead and Naomi supplying harmony, the Judds had a warm, distinctive sound that inspired a long string of number one country hits. While fans responded to mother Naomi's youthful, beautiful appearance, it was Wynonna who received the greatest attention. With her nimble guitar skills and tough, growling voice, she fit in perfectly with the 1980s "neo-traditionalist" movement, which overturned the heavily produced, pop-oriented country of the 1970s in favor of a subtler, gently rocking approach. When Naomi contracted life-threatening hepatitis in 1990 and the Judds were forced to disband, it made sense that Wynonna would strike out as a solo artist.

Judd's first album on her own, Wynonna, was released in 1992 and more than lived up to the artist's commercial promise, spawning three number one singles and going triple platinum. With its even mixture of hard-rocking numbers and ballads Wynonna is a fairly conventional country album, although Judd's unique style shines through. The gospel-influenced "Live with Jesus" showcases her sensuous vocal growl while "It's Never Easy to Say Goodbye" is a moving ballad. Opening with a scene of a mother crying as she puts her young son on a school bus, the song might have sounded corny in other hands, but Judd makes it believable through her heartfelt sincerity. Judd's follow-up album, Tell Me Why (1993), gave the first indication of a widening stylistic range, featuring a more diverse sound than the previous album. "That Was Yesterday," for example, is a bluesy number pointing to Judd's increasing interest in R&B music. "It's finally over, and I can't even cry," Judd sings darkly, her voice carrying a new depth and authority. The song features a guitar solo by Steve Cropper, whose haunting playing was featured on many great rhythm and blues records of the 1960s.

By the time of her fifth studio album, New Day Dawning (2000), Judd had matured into a performer who could take any kind of material and make it her own. From the hard rockinfluenced "Chain Reaction" to the breathy cover of rock and folk singer Joni Mitchell's "Help Me," Judd sounds assured, her voice gaining command through years of experience. By this time, however, Judd was no longer hitting the country charts with regularity, a situation over which she voiced much public frustration. "I'm finding myself sort of overlooked," she told Country Music International in September 2000, adding that, "Country radio just doesn't play me because they really don't know what to do with me right now." While ranking as one of her finest albums, New Day Dawning was perhaps too eclectic for popular acceptance. Furthermore, in an age dominated by athletic, sexy country singers such as Shania Twain and Faith Hill, the heavy, big-haired Judd seemed out of date, relying on talent rather than image to get her message across. Never publicity shy, Judd focused on nurturing fans outside of the country mainstream, including a devoted lesbian following that embraced her tough but vulnerable performance style. In the meantime, public attention shifted to sister Ashley, who became a successful Hollywood actress.

As country music edged closer in the 1990s to the pop mainstream, Wynonna Judd was an anomaly, her soulful, full-bodied vocal style reminiscent of female country performers of the past such as Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette. Like those vocalists, Judd delves into the emotional life of her songs to draw up pain and heartache. At the same time, her experiments with rock, R&B, and gospel make her one of country music's most innovative artists.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Wynonna (MCA, 1992); Tell Me Why (MCA, 1993); Revelations (MCA, 1996); New Day Dawning (MCA, 2000).

WEBSITE:

www.wynonna.com.

david freeland

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Judd, Wynonna." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Judd, Wynonna." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/judd-wynonna

"Judd, Wynonna." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved October 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/judd-wynonna