The Judds Come Home

By Michael Stout

The magic was alive more than ever on April 7 as Ashland, Ky. natives Naomi and Wynonna Judd, better known as The Judds, came home to Kentucky for an unforgettable concert. The Judds brought their “Power To Change” tour to Lexington’s Rupp Arena and brought along none other than “the unsung Judd” turned movie star, Ashley Judd. Ashley, a University of Kentucky graduate whom mother Naomi calls the “Princess of Lexington,” had the great honor of introducing her famous mother and sister on a joyous and emotional evening that was full of hope and celebration. The multi-award winning, red-headed duo of country music ascended through the stage floor, accompanied by a 40-member choir performing the ever-so-emotional “Love Can Build A Bridge,” the final song Naomi and Wynonna performed together on December 4, 1991, closing the book on The Judds as Naomi was forced to retire from country music due to her diagnosis of hepatitis C. Well, nearly a decade later, Naomi is in full remission and she and Wynonna have hit the road for a mini-reunion tour to celebrate life and country music. Naomi went on to assure the fans that, “this is living proof that there is always hope!”

After nine years of silence, let me assure you that The Judds have still got it going on, sounding better than ever as they performed for a solid 2 hours and 40 minute, jerking at the audience’s heartstrings with songs like “River Of Time,” “I Know Where I’m Going,” “Mama, He’s Crazy,” and “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout The Good Old Days).” Hipper and crazier than ever, these gals had nearly all 9,000 members of the audience up on their feet and dancing in the aisles with “Girls Night Out,” “Turn It Loose,” “Why Not Me,” “Give A Little Love” and “Rockin’ With The Rhythm Of The Rain,” in addition to “Big Bang Boogie,” one of four brand-new Judds recordings featured on a four-song CD enclosed in Wynonna’s new album. Judd fans got their money’s worth as they got the whole package with Naomi, Wynonna AND Ashley, along with a heaping portion of Judd home movies scattered throughout the show, narrated by these three women themselves.

It was refreshing to see that Naomi has not changed a bit as she continued to priss around the stage and toy with the audience (as well as pulling an occasional fan onstage to frolic with). And what would a Judds’ concert be without Naomi’s vast wardrobe? She sported everything from an aqua-sequined, bell-bottom pant-suit to a purple gown to a silver tea-length number from the “sparkle section of Big K-Mart” to a red crushed-velvet flared mini-skirt, all leading up to her finale of a peach fairy dress complete with tiara (after all, Wy says, her mother is the “queen of everything”), all while Wynonna was looking chic in your basic black pants ensembles with an occasional sparkle or leather fringe, even sitting atop a Harley at times.

What better way is there to pass the time of Naomi’s many costume changes than to allow Wynonna to fly solo, as no one else can. Wynonna kicked things off with her debut solo hit “She Is His Only Need” and assured the enthusiastic crowd, “You all helped me develop an attitude. Because of your prayer and support [following Naomi’s retirement], I was able to get out there and kick some butt!” And Wynonna, being probably the most soulful singer in all of country music, did plenty of butt-kickin’ with hits such as “Rock Bottom,” “Tell Me Why,” and “No One Else On Earth,” in addition to songs like “Can’t Nobody Love You Like I Do,” “Help Me,” and her next single “Going Nowhere” all from her recently released album New Day Dawning.

If you weren’t fortunate enough to experience the renewed magic of The Judds firsthand in Lexington, never fear, as the event was filmed for a television special to air on CBS at 8 p.m. EDT on May 17. An additional bonus for Judd fans, the Millennium New Year’s Eve concert in Phoenix, Ariz. which was the birth of the “Power To Change” reunion tour, was recorded for a live album, titled The Judds Reunion Live, which is slated to hit store shelves on May 9.

Country music’s latest and hottest new red-head, Jo Dee Messina, opened this stop of the “Power To Change” tour with a rousing 40-minute set which included hits such as “Bye, Bye,” “I’m Alright,” “Lesson In Leaving” and “Because You Love Me,” in addition to songs off her upcoming new album such as “Closer,” “There Is Nothing I Can Do” and the album’s title-track, “Burn.”