NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - Wynonna Judd grew up in front of her fans as half of the country singing duo The Judds. Now she and her mother, Naomi, are revealing some of their secrets on television in a documentary on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network.
“I hope this show can be a testimony to what happens when you are ready to show up and roll your sleeves up, and get real and let secrets fly and lift the veil and be known,” Wynonna Judd told Reuters.
The six-part series, starting on Sunday, was filmed as the sometimes warring duo teamed up in 2010 for their first concert tour together in 10 years.
The mother-daughter duo had no creative control over the series. “We had to allow them to take us for who we are, and boy did they! I know there are going to be moments where the viewers will say they can relate to me or my mom,” Wynonna said.
The Judds dominated country music in the 1980s, winning five Grammy Awards, selling more than 20 million albums, and having a string of hits including “Mama’s He’s Crazy,” and “Love Can Build a Bridge.”
But behind, and often in front of, the scenes, life was far from rosy. Wynonna didn’t always get along with her mother, and there was talk of arguments and disagreements on the road.
Naomi, now 65, was not honest with her oldest daughter about her real father, and Wynonna battled weight issues. Last week, both women revealed they had been sexually abused as children, and Naomi’s younger daughter, actress Ashley Judd, released a memoir with details of her own painful childhood.
Wynonna, 46, credits her life coach for talking her into the TV documentary.
“The coach said, ‘If there are any two people that I know, to know how far you guys have come, you have to do this because you deserve to celebrate where your relationship is now.’ So we said yes,” the flame-haired singer said.
Wynonna, who has a solo career and hits like “She is His Only Need” and “No One Else On Earth,” said some of the hardest moments during filming were watching her mother talk about her own, long-concealed sexual abuse as a child.
”She told me about it when we went on tour, but to see her talk about it in front of the cameras...It was so hard to watch. I wanted them to shut the cameras down.
“Then Ashley sends us her book and I wanted to say, ‘Mom don’t read it until the tour is over.’ But she’s going to read it whether I tell her to or not. I‘m very protective of her, yet it’s between her and Ashley. I just have to figure out a way to deal with the dynamics,” she said.
Wynonna said she has not read Ashley’s memoir, published last week, but added; “It’s like if three people are on a car trip, and when they get back they each have their own version of the trip. I have to accept that and let her present her story.”
Wynonna admitted she has vulnerabilities of her own. “I’ve struggled for years with performer’s anxiety and have worked hard to accept myself personally. When I‘m dealing with the music, I‘m very comfortable and I know what I want. When I‘m off by myself in the woods, I look up and go ‘God, am I okay as a mother, and am I a good daughter and sister?'”
She did not learn the name of her real father until she was 30, and said that for years she had found it hard to appear vulnerable toward her mother.
“I think for so long I was good at being more sarcastic and rebellious and tough on her...(Now) I‘m 46 and I can no longer blame my mom and talk to her the way I did. She is 65 and now I‘m totally protective of her. There were moments when she would get emotional and I’d want them to turn the cameras off of her, let her have a moment.”
One of the more poignant scenes in the TV documentary is when Wynonna sings a song she wrote recently for her mother. “It’s hard to sing it knowing it’s so personal and so many people will see it,” she said.
But amid the drama and chaos, there is plenty of humor in the series. ”Like when my mom is being her usually silly self and I want to pull her hair out.
“There was a lot of joy and laughter. I told the director I wanted him to put a lot of those moments in too.”
Editing by Jill Serjeant