When The Judds reunited at the CMA Music Festival on a hot Nashville evening in June 2009, the reaction from the 50, 000 fans in the audience was nothing short of astounding. Wynonna had just wrapped up a fiery solo set when her mother Naomi joined her for a rare onstage performance revisiting Judds classics such as "Why Not Me," "Girls Night Out" and "Love Can Build a Bridge."
Wynonna and Naomi realized the deep connection their music made with their fans is now stronger than ever. That experience convinced the duo it was time to give the fans exactly what they demanded. One year later, The Judds returned to the 2010 CMA Music Festival to announce The Last Encore tour.
According to Naomi, The Last Encore tour is a chance to celebrate that relationship with their fans one last time. "There is nothing like music and laughter to connect people," she says. "How I've missed that encounter with the very ones who've allowed us that awesome privilege! I'm counting the days till I can be back on my bus, visiting their towns." That connection with their fans inspired Wynonna and Naomi to get them involved early on in the creative process. In fact, The Last Encore tour's name was actually submitted by a fan in a recent contest.
The Last Encore is also a celebration of the connection between this legendary mother and daughter, both onstage and off. Says Wynonna, "This tour gives me a chance to enjoy where my mom and I are in our relationship. I look forward to celebrating our personal and professional journey...together."
The creative energy fueling The Last Encore's 18 dates also spilled over in to the studio. Following that fateful reunion at the CMA Music Festival, Wynonna and Naomi decided to collaborate on several new songs capturing what The Judds would sound like today had they never stopped recording. Their first single in 10 years, “I Will Stand By You,” flowed seamlessly into The Judds’ catalog, with lyrics covering love, joy, friendship, family and everything in between.
The duo's upward momentum came to a halt in October 1990 as Naomi announced she had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C and would retire following a farewell tour. That 116-city trek made The Judds country music's top grossing act of 1991 and led to Their Final Concert, which became the highest rated pay-per-view special of all time.
The end of that chapter in The Judds' story was only the beginning of a dazzling second act for both women. After Hepatitis C threatened to end not just Naomi's hard won career, but also her life, she fully recovered and penned her bestselling memoir, 1993's Love Can Build a Bridge. Naomi went on to author a total of eight books, including three bestsellers from adult titles to children's books, hosted her own radio and television shows and joined the speaker circuit recounting her inspirational story of survival. Her post-tour plans include opening a state-of-the-art neuroscience treatment facility in Franklin, Tennessee.Though this tour has been billed as The Last Encore, their fans know it’s never really the end with Wynonna and Naomi. For those who've followed the girls from the rolling hills of Kentucky to the dizzying height of fame, the music and memories of The Judds will live on long after the final curtain call.
I Will Stand By You: The Essential Collection