The Judds join the Country Music Hall of Fame a day after the unexpected death of Naomi Judd

Ray Charles and The Judds joined the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday in a ceremony filled with tears, music and laughter, just a day after Naomi Judd died suddenly.

The loss of Naomi Judd altered the normally celebratory ceremony, but the music continued, as singers and musicians of the genre mourned Naomi Judd while celebrating the four inductees: The Judds, Ray Charles, Eddie Bayers and Pete Drake. Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill and more performed their hit songs.

Naomi and Wynonna Judd were among the most popular duos of the 1980s, scoring 14 No. 1 hits during their nearly three-decade career. On the eve of her induction, the family said in a statement to The Associated Press that Naomi Judd died at the age of 76 due to “the disease of mental illness”.

Daughters Wynonna and Ashley Judd accepted the induction amid tears, holding each other and reciting a Bible verse together.

“I’m sorry she couldn’t hold on until today,” Ashley Judd said of her mother to the crowd as she cried. Wynonna Judd spoke about the family reunion as they said goodbye to her and she and Ashley Judd recited Psalm 23.

“Though my heart is broken, I will continue to sing,” Wynonna Judd said.

Naomi Judd obituary
Naomi Judd, left, and Wynonna Judd of The Judds at ‘Girls’ Night Out: Superstar Women of Country’ in Las Vegas on April 4, 2011.

Julie Jacobson/AP

Fans gathered outside the museum, drawn to a bouquet of white flowers outside the entrance and a small framed photo of Naomi Judd below. A single rose lay on the ground.

Charles’ induction featured his genre-defying country releases, which showed the commercial appeal of the genre. The Georgia-born singer and pianist grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry and in 1962 released “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music,” which became one of the best-selling country songs of its day.

The pianist, blinded and orphaned at a young age, is best known for R&B, gospel and soul, but his decision to record country music changed the way the world viewed the genre, broadening audiences worldwide. civil rights era.

Charles’ version of “I Can’t Stop Loving You” spent five weeks atop the Billboard 100 chart and remains one of his most popular songs. He died in 2004.

Brooks sang “Seven Spanish Angels”, one of Charles’ hits with Willie Nelson, while Bettye LaVette performed “I Can’t Stop Loving You”.

Country Music Hall of Famer Ronnie Milsap said he met Charles when he was a young singer and others tried to emulate Charles, but no one could measure up.

“There was one of him and only one,” Milsap said. “He sang country music the way he should.”

The Hall of Fame also inducted two recording musicians who were essential to so many country songs and singers: Eddie Bayers and Pete Drake.

Bayers, a drummer in Nashville for decades who worked on 300 platinum records, is a member of the Grand Ole Opry band. He has regularly performed on records for The Judds, Ricky Skaggs, George Strait, Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. He is the first drummer to join the institution.

Drake, who died in 1988, was a pedal steel guitarist and member of the A team of skilled session musicians from Nashville. He played on hits like Tammy Wynette’s “Stand By Your Man” and George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today”. . He is the first pedal steel guitar player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.