At 9 a.m. on a winter Friday, the call is connected to Wynonna. Just a few nights earlier, she’d played a theater date on her Stories & Song tour in Louisville, Kentucky. True to the title, her all-new show relies on anecdotes and acoustic instruments to survey her 30 years as an entertainer. Along the way, she recounts crossing paths with everyone from Johnny Carson to Johnny Cash – without straying too far from her rich catalog of Judds classics and solo signature hits.
When the conversation with CMT.com gets underway, she’s warmed up and ready to talk about life on the road this time around.
CMT: You mentioned at the show I saw that you were nervous. What was going through your mind just before you stepped out on stage that night?
Wynonna: Before I launch, I usually go through a series of events. I have a pre-show workout, both spiritually and emotionally. I go through a process, like anyone else. I do the affirmations – “I’m a winner,” “I have strong, white teeth …” (laughs) It’s a series of thoughts and sometimes when I’m walking to stage, all of a sudden it hits me. “Wait a second. What are you doing? You’re crazy. I’m going to walk out onstage and just stand there and sing a capella? Wait, why did I do this?” (laughs)
I go through this panic sometimes of, “Oh my gosh.” My perfectionism shows up in those moments. I was taught to be a champion. I was raised to be not only a risk taker, but a pioneer, if you will. I’ve always had the desire to be unique. My mom taught me to not just be the best, but ‘be unique’ was a huge lesson I learned from her. I mean, the Judds came out during a time when we could not have been more different than what was taking place in the music business at the time. It was just a guitar and two vocals and I think people were curious to know, “Wait a second, what are you guys doing?”
I’m so used to the big tours. I just don’t know the word “medium” or “small,” let’s put it that way. (laughs) I just don’t. I mean, come on, I did Dancing With the Stars for goodness sakes. I mean, what the hell am I doing? That could not be further from what I do, but I [did the show] just to try it. You know, I’ve always put myself out there, literally and figuratively.
For instance, the other night I went out onstage and for some reason I had the wrong note in my head. It was too high and, man, I am so tap-dancing with a load in my pants. (laughs). That’s what I call it — it’s such a visual, you know? It’s like, “Hey, smile through it. Act like you know what you’re doing.” I’m going, “Craaap!” I started the song out a little bit too high, so I had to stand up on my tippie-toes, squeeze my butt together and just sing from my toenails. It’s like, “Wow, this is not my favorite,” but I’ve done it so many times, I feel like that trapeze artist without a net pretty much every show. That’s the whole point of the tour.
You made it look easy from where I was sitting. But there was somebody in the audience who was standing up and hollering compliments at you.
Gee, you think? Oh, I didn’t notice. (laughs)
You kept your cool, and what surprised me was that she had never seen a show in a reserved situation like that.
Correct, this is a very different kind of tour. Every night, by the way, is hilarious, because there are always one or two (people like that) – or more, actually. But you’re right. This is a theater tour and it’s meant for listening. It’s definitely quiet with acoustic instruments.
By the way, that girl tweeted me the next day and said, “I’m sorry if I offended you.” And I tweeted back and said, “You didn’t offend me. I don’t know about the person behind you, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to meet you where you are.” That’s the whole point of concerts. But like my mother says, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” That’s a good lesson I learned from her. You know, everybody’s got their own unique experience at these shows.
Fans always want to know, what is coming up next for you?
Everything! Everything! The other day, someone asked me what I’d like to do that I haven’t done. I said “brain surgery” and they thought I was being serious. (laughs) I said, “You don’t understand, I’m likely to do anything because I have no fear. I don’t know if it’s a combination of having so much experience and being 50. You get to a place in your life where you go, “You know what? I’m going to get into … wrestling.” (laughs) I don’t know, what have I not done?
What’s next for me is everything. If I get asked again to sing with Phish, I’ll fly in and do that. I’m going to finish this record in the next month, hopefully. I’ve got people that I’ve asked to be on this record and if I can pull it off, I’ll feel like I just pulled off the greatest bank robbery in the history of the world. And then I’m going to have a garden, and then I’m going to get some goats, and then I’m going to build a chicken house.
I keep getting asked to do The Apprentice. People keep saying, “Are you going to do it?” I’m not a business person as much as a dreamer and an artist. I am literally waiting for the phone to ring, so when people ask me what I’m doing, I have already prayed the prayer of “OK, God, I don’t want you to just bless what I’m doing. I want to do what you’re blessing.” I’m telling you, when I do that, and go on faith, you’d be surprised at the phone calls I get.
Willie from Duck Dynasty wants to talk to me about doing something? Well, OK. So-and-so wants me to fly to New York and be on The View for a week and give my opinions? Boy, that will ruin my career. (laughs)
Then your phone will really ring.
Exactly. You have to remember, I’m like a doctor on call and that is the truth. I literally live and breathe music. That’s my life. However, you would be surprised at the phone calls I get. I am! They want me to fly to this place to read a story to a kindergarten class? Absolutely! If people only knew.
But my point is, I have nothing in common with these people that call me, but yet music connects us. I think that is amazing. I’m already booked six to nine months ahead. I’ve got a lot that I’m attempting to do, and we’ll see what comes alongside of that. I keep my suitcase packed at all times.