Oct. 17, 1990, was undoubtedly one of the most difficult days for the Judds, and especially for Naomi Judd. It was on that date that Judd made the surprise announcement that she was retiring from the award-winning duo she had formed with her daughter Wynonna Judd, and from music entirely, because of her diagnosis of Hepatitis C — a potentially fatal disease that affects the liver.
The Judds were in the middle of their successful Love Can Build a Bridge Tour when then-44-year-old Naomi Judd was given the devastating news. ”I have always told Wy and our fans the only thing that could stop me from this career that I so desperately love is my health,” Judd said (quote via the Los Angeles Times). “Unfortunately, that has happened.”
When Naomi Judd announced her retirement, it was also announced that Wynonna Judd would continue making music as a solo artist. The elder Judd was expected to step out of the limelight and focus solely on her health — but, to everyone’s surprise, including herself maybe most of all, her retirement became more of a resurgence. After the Judds wrapped their farewell tour in 1991, Naomi Judd became an active spokesperson for the American Liver Foundation and also created the Naomi Judd Education and Research Fund; she devoted much of her time and resources to education and support for those dealing with the deadly disorder.
In 1999, Judd starred in a TV movie, A Holiday Romance, and returned to the stage with her daughter, performing together for a New Year’s Eve concert in Phoenix, Ariz. She followed that performance by a marked return to the spotlight, joining her daughter on their cross-country Power to Change Tour in 2000 and appearing on several TV shows, including Hallmark’s Naomi’s New Morning in 2005 and as a judge on CMT’s Can You Duet in 2008. Judd also authored several books, including Naomi’s Guide to Aging Gracefully.
While it is uncommon for people with Hepatitis C to lead such a productive life, the Kentucky native says that a combination of conventional and alternative medicine, including taking plenty of vitamins each day and eating a healthy diet, helped cure her of the illness. ”I feel strongly about antioxidants,” Judd says (quote via HealthyHepper.com). “I’m fortunate in that I live in the wilderness and have clean air and pure water. Any time I go into the city, I double my antioxidant dosages.”
Since Judd’s miraculous recovery, the mother and daughter have reunited onstage, in 2010, for their final tour, The Last Encore, and appeared together on a reality show, in 2011, on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. Judd also acted in a Hallmark movie, Nearlyweds, in 2013, and continues to make appearances speaking about her battle with and recovery from Hepatitis C. More recently, in August of 2015, the Judds announced that they would be playing a residency, Girls Night Out, at the Venetian in Las Vegas, Nev.
See the Judds Through the Years: