2023 People’s Choice Country Awards: Wynonna Judd Accepts Country Champion Award

Wynonna Judd received the Country Champion Award at the People’s Choice Country Awards, presented to her by Brothers Osborne. The Kentucky native performed a medley of some of her biggest hits before graciously accepting the honor.

“I graduated high school in 1982. In 1983, I got a record deal with RCA Records,” Judd said, reflecting on the first chapter of her career with her mother, Naomi Judd, as The Judds. “I got on a Silver Eagle bus with my mama, and did her hair every night for ten years, for free. It started there. Of course, ten years later, she would have to retire, and I would go on to make country music herstory. And thanks to the fans, I didn’t give up then. I would have another ten years, a second career, and then on [April] 30th of last year, my mother committed suicide.”

Judd recalled the painful day her mother took her life, also sharing how she spent her first day after Naomi’s tragic death.

“I went to her house, and she died there, but we followed the ambulance anyway, to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead,” she recalled. “I walked into the room, and I held her in my arms, I kissed her on the forehead, shut her eyes and said, ‘I love you, Mom.’ I walked out of that room, went home and showed up the next morning at the Country Music Hall of Fame, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. “You know why? Because that’s how much we love music.

“Regardless of what has happened to me and who, I show up, and I show out,” she remarked. “I looked up the word ‘champion’ today, and it says, ‘to do battle for other’s honor,’ and that is exactly what I’m going to do tomorrow, when I get on a commercial flight and fly to Denver to do one more show, because I can’t get enough of you.”

Judd concluded her heartfelt speech by thanking those closest to her, including her own family, and reflecting on the ups and downs of her lengthy career.

“Thanks to my husband, you are my King,” Judd praised. “To my daughter Grace and my son, Elijah, I love being your mother. I have a granddaughter, and I will do anything to protect her, and to do battle. Let me tell you something: it’s getting harder and harder out there. Never give up on your dreams. And for half of y’all in this place tonight, I know you don’t know who I am, or you were not born when I had my years of being fabulous, but I’ll let that go.

“But back in 1990, before the flood, Tim McGraw opened for me,” she concluded. “Four weeks ago, I opened for Tim. The highs are high and the lows are low, baby, but don’t ever let them tell you who you are.”

The A Tribute To The Judds album, featuring Blake SheltonGwen StefaniJelly RollDolly PartonLainey WilsonReba McEntireTrisha YearwoodAshley McBrydeGabby BarrettJamey JohnsonCarly PearceCody Johnson and more will be released on October 27, on BMG.