Daughter reveals cause of death for country legend Naomi Judd

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(CNN) — Ashley Judd and her family wanted the world to hear from them how Naomi Judd died.

The younger Judd appeared in an interview with Diane Sawyer, which aired on Thursday on “Good Morning America.” She said her family had agreed that she share the cause of death of her mother.

“She used a weapon,” Ashley Judd said. “A firearm. So that’s the piece of information we’re very uncomfortable sharing.”

She and her sister Wynonna Judd announced on April 30 that they had lost their mother “to the disease of mental illness.” She was 76.

Ashley Judd said she and her family wanted to shed light on mental illness, explaining that it is “important to distinguish between the loved one and the disease.”

“When we’re talking about mental illness, it’s very important, and to be clear and to make the distinction between our loved one and the disease,” Judd said in the interview. “It lies. It’s savage. And, you know, my mother, our mother, couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers. I mean, that is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside of her because the barrier between — the regard in which they held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart. And the lie that the disease told her was so convincing.”

Naomi Judd wrote openly about her depression and anxiety in her memoir “River of Time” and daughter Ashley said it was because of this that she cherished every moment she spent with her mother.

“I really accepted the love my mother was capable of giving me because I knew she was fragile,” Judd said. “So when I walked around the back of their house and came in the kitchen door and she said, ‘There’s my darling, there’s my baby.’ And she lit up. I savored those moments.”

The matriarch died the day before she and her daughter Wynonna, who made up the country music duo The Judds, were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Ashley Judd said her mother “couldn’t hang on” to be recognized by her peers.

Naomi and Wynonna Judd scored 14 No. 1 songs in a career that spanned nearly three decades. The red-headed duo combined the traditional Appalachian sounds of bluegrass with polished pop stylings, scoring hit after hit in the 1980s. Wynonna led the duo with her powerful vocals, while Naomi provided harmonies and stylish looks on stage.

The Judds released six studio albums and an EP between 1984 and 1991 and won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music. They earned a total of five Grammy Awards together on hits like “Why Not Me” and “Give A Little Love,” and Naomi earned a sixth Grammy for writing “Love Can Build a Bridge.”

Click here to listen to Love Can Build A Bridge: Best Of The Judds – https://TheJudds.lnk.to/BestOfTheJudds

A memorial is planned at 6 p.m. (eastern) on Sunday, May 15 at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. It will be televised on CMT.

“We are sincerely privileged to work alongside Wynonna and Ashley to present this live celebration of life for their mother Naomi,” a statement about the event read. “While we all continue to deeply mourn the loss of such a legendary artist, we are honored to commemorate her legacy alongside the country community, her friends, family and legions of fans across the world at the perfect venue: The Mother Church of Country Music. This special will celebrate her timeless voice, unforgettable spirit and the immense impact she left on our genre through the best form of healing we have – music.”

Performers and special appearances will be announced in the days to come.

Copyright 2022. WDRB Media and CNN.  The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. 

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