So many have dreams of country music stardom and glory, but sadly not all of those dreams will come true — and don’t think that realization is lost on Naomi and Wynonna Judd.
The revered mother-daughter duo is still in awe of their journey in music, and perhaps even more so now that they have their own exhibit in Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum called The Judds: Dream Chasers.
To fans, friends, family and peers, it’s no surprise whatsoever — but for these two blue Kentucky girls, who’ve famously weathered many personal and professional storms over the years, it still feels completely surreal.
The two toured their exhibit last week during an invitation-only media preview.
“In one of our biggest fights, we talked about which one of us would be institutionalized. So, here we stand together. I have not stopped crying all freaking day,” Wynonna told family and friends gathered at last week’s preview.
“I don’t know what to say,” she continued. “When you’re eighteen years old, you’re supposed to get an apartment, have hangovers, and be late on your rent. Yet, a dream come true—I share a bus with you,” she said to her mother, Naomi.
“Whoa. Thank you, God.”
For Naomi, seeing the exhibit brought back a flood of memories of the days before anyone knew who she was or the musical gifts that both she and her daughter share in spades.
“I was taking care of a couple bratty girls who were teenagers. I was trying to raise them with little money,” she said. “It was really rough, I have to say. But then one magical day, Joe Galante helped change our lives forever. Brent Maher helped change our lives forever and ever.”
Naomi, then a nurse at Williamson County Hospital, was taking care of Maher’s daughter Diana when their meeting occurred.
“I brought her pain shots on time, I was a really good nurse,” Naomi recalled. “I waited until they were discharging her from the hospital. I took our demo tape to Brent.”
The demo tape in question had been recorded on one tape recorder, where they then pressed play and recorded onto a second tape recorder.
“We were high-tech,” Naomi joked. “That was our audition tape. We didn’t need an 8×10 or a bio.”
The rest, as they say, is history, a storied journey we’re all familiar with, but the early parts of the journey before stardom, well, that’s the best part. And it’s fully captured in their intimate exhibit.
“It’s a real kick that we have this in the museum,” Naomi added. “Some mother’s keep stuff like a lock of hair, their first tooth, baby booties. I just kept every stinking thing there is. You’ll see it over in the museum. I am this close to being a hoarder!”
But don’t think that just because they’re in the museum that Wynonna is getting any ideas to retire.
“My son Elijah said to me yesterday, ‘I Googled you yesterday, Mom.’ They’re so into your phones and he said,’ You were really, really famous. I looked at your net worth. You’re really not worth that much, are you? I told him, ‘I’ve only just begun.’ What a legacy we leave behind,” she said.
“This moment in time will come and go. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow I will be back on the farm doing chores, but today we are standing here as people see us — the American Dream,” Wynonna said.
“It’s so weird, because you know that with Country Music, to our fans, we are family — and all of you are family. We spent more time with you than our own relatives, honestly. You and I have been through so much together – and we made it. We actually made it, and we did it together.”
Among the sweet artifacts found in the exhibit is a Valentine’s Day card a young Wy sent to Asleep at the Wheel harmonica player Johnny Nicholas, who was a family friend. Nicholas is responsible for the first suggestion of “Wynonna” as a stage name for the singer, born Christina Ciminella. In the note, Wy writes to him, “Everyone loves my new name. Just remember you gave me that wonderful name.”
The Judds: Dream Chasers is open until July 14, 2019.