Christina Claire Ciminella
May 30, 1964
|Relatives||Ashley Judd (half-sister)|
Wynonna Ellen Judd (// wy-NOH-nə; born Christina Claire Ciminella; May 30, 1964) is a multi award-winning American country music singer. She is one of the most widely recognized and awarded female country singers. In all, she has had 19 No. 1 singles, including those of The Judds, making her one of the best-selling country artists of all time. Her solo albums and singles are all credited to the single name Wynonna. She first rose to fame in the 1980s alongside her mother, Naomi, in the country music duo The Judds. They released seven albums on Curb Records in addition to 26 singles, of which fourteen were No. 1 hits.
The Judds disbanded in 1991 and Wynonna began a solo career, also on Curb. In her solo career, she has released eight studio albums, a live album, a holiday album, and two compilation albums, in addition to more than 20 singles. Her first three singles were "She Is His Only Need", "I Saw the Light", and "No One Else on Earth". All three reached number one on the U.S. country singles charts consecutively, and "To Be Loved by You" also hit number one in 1996, her fourth number one and top ten hit. Three of her albums are certified platinum or higher by the RIAA. Her most recent recordings are Wynonna & the Big Noise, released on February 12, 2016, along with the single "Cool Ya'" that same month. "Recollections" was released in 2020 and "Are You Ready For The Country" was released in 2021 in aid of Public TV. Wynonna is most recognized for her musical work, although she has also pursued other interests starting in the 2000s, including writing, acting, and philanthropy.
Wynonna was born Christina Claire Ciminella in Ashland, Kentucky, on May 30, 1964. She was given the last name Ciminella after Michael Ciminella, the man her mother quickly married after being abandoned by her boyfriend and Judd's biological father, Charles Jordan, who died in 2000. Her younger half-sister is actress Ashley Judd. Naomi and Ciminella moved with the girls to Los Angeles in 1968 but were divorced by 1972. By 1976, Wynonna and Naomi were living in Kentucky, where Wynonna took inspiration from the country music that her mother listened to and learned to play guitar after receiving one for Christmas. The two of them moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1979 in pursuit of a musical career. After her mother legally changed her name from Diana to Naomi, Christina adopted the stage name "Wynonna" after the song "(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66", which mentions the town of Winona, Arizona, in the lyrics.
Wynonna and Naomi were signed to RCA Records in 1983 as the duo the Judds. Between 1983 and 1991, the Judds charted 23 hit singles on the Billboard Hot Country Singles (now Hot Country Songs) charts, including 14 number ones. They also recorded eight studio albums, one Christmas album and two Greatest Hits compilations. In their six-year career, the Judds sold more than 20 million records worldwide and had won over 60 industry awards, including five Grammy Nominations, nine Country Music Association awards (seven of them consecutive), and eight Billboard Music Awards. At the time, they were the biggest-selling duo in country music and remained so until they were eclipsed by Brooks & Dunn in the 1990s.
Wynonna reunited with her mother for a 1999 New Year's Eve concert to ring in the year 2000 sponsored by K-mart. They embarked on a full-fledged tour together in 2000, and four new Judds songs were released on an exclusive bonus disc with Wynonna's album, New Day Dawning.
The Judds again reunited in 2010 for "The Last Encore", an 18-city tour. As a result of the tour excitement, Curb Records announced the release of a new album from the Judds, I Will Stand by You: The Essential Collection, which featured two new songs and twelve of the duo's hits. The album was released on April 5, 2011.
On June 1, 2013, the Judds celebrated their 30th anniversary as a recording duo.
1992–1998: Breakthrough success
On January 27, 1992, Wynonna performed solo on television for the first time at the American Music Awards. She unveiled "She Is His Only Need", the first single from her self-titled solo debut album. This album, Wynonna, was released in 1992 via MCA/Curb, under the production of Tony Brown. "She Is His Only Need" went to number one on the Billboard country singles charts that year, as did the album's next three singles, "I Saw the Light" and "My Strongest Weakness". "No One Else on Earth", was also the number one country song of 1992 according to Billboard Year-End. "She Is His Only Need" and "No One Else on Earth" were also minor Adult Contemporary hits, and the latter peaked at No. 83 on the Billboard Hot 100. "My Strongest Weakness", the album's final single, was a No. 4 country hit. The album shipped five million copies in the United States, earning a 5× Multi-Platinum certification from the RIAA.
Her second album, Tell Me Why, was released by MCA/Curb in 1993. Also a platinum-selling album, it accounted for five consecutive Top Ten hits on the country charts: the title track, "Only Love", "Is It Over Yet", "Rock Bottom", and "Girls with Guitars", which was written by Mary Chapin Carpenter. "Tell Me Why" was her third crossover hit, peaking at No. 77 on the pop charts and No. 24 on the Adult Contemporary charts. Between "Tell Me Why" and "Only Love", she sang guest vocals on Clint Black's 1993 single "A Bad Goodbye" (from the album No Time to Kill), which became her biggest pop hit at No. 43. The success of this song led to a tour called the Black & Wy tour, featuring Black and Wynonna as headliners.
In 1994, she also made an appearance on the Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute album Skynyrd Frynds, on which she covered their song "Free Bird". She also sang duet vocals on pop-Christian singer Michael English's debut single, "Healing", which peaked at No. 120 on the pop charts. After "Girls with Guitars" fell from the charts, Wynonna became the subject of negative publicity, as she had a child out of wedlock. She was absent from the country charts for all of 1995. In 1996, she married Arch Kelly, the father of her daughter and son.
Revelations was the title of her third album, released by MCA/Curb in 1996. Also certified platinum, this album was led off by her fourth and final number one hit, the Mike Reid/Gary Burr co-written "To Be Loved by You". Despite this song's minor Adult Contemporary success, the album's other three singles did not fare as well:
Wynonna's fourth and final album for MCA was titled The Other Side. Unlike her previous country pop-oriented albums, this album focused on a more blues and rock sound. It was released in 1997 and produced four singles. The album did not sell as well as her first three, however, only earning a gold certification. Its singles were not as successful on the charts, either: although "When Love Starts Talkin'" and "Come Some Rainy Day" reached No. 13 and No. 14, respectively, "Always Will" fell short of Top 40 and "Love Like That" became the first single of her career not to chart at all. After the release of a greatest hits album called Collection, Wynonna left MCA in favor of Mercury Records.
2000–2004: Success in the new millennium
In 1999, Wynonna decided to reunite with her mother for a tour beginning on New Year's Eve. A month later, Wynonna released her fifth solo album, New Day Dawning. This album, the first of her career that Wynonna co-produced, included a four-song bonus disc entitled Big Bang Boogie composed of four new Judds songs.
What the World Needs Now Is Love, her sixth studio album, was released in August 2003, on Curb records. Lead-off single "What the World Needs" reached the Top 15 on the country charts, followed by the lesser singles "Heaven Help Me" and "Flies on the Butter (You Can't Go Home Again)", at No. 37 and No. 33 respectively. This latter song, originally recorded by Lari White on her album Stepping Stone, featured backing vocals from Naomi, and was credited on the charts as "Wynonna with Naomi Judd" instead of the Judds. Judd had success on the Hot Dance Airplay charts with a cover of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is". Her rendition peaked at No. 12 on that chart in 2005. Also included on What the World Needs Now Is Love were two songs from soundtracks: a cover of the Elvis Presley hit "Burning Love", which Wynonna recorded for the animated movie Lilo & Stitch, and "You Are", co-written by Judd, which was included in the movie Someone Like You, a film starring half-sister Ashley Judd.
2005–present: New career directions
Her second release for Asylum-Curb was a live CD/DVD package called Her Story: Scenes from a Lifetime, released in 2005 which was concurrently released by with her best selling autobiography, Coming Home to Myself. The album included one new studio track, "Attitude". Written by Wynonna and John Rich of Big & Rich, this song was issued as a single, peaking at No. 40 on the country charts. That same year she released her first solo Christmas album called A Classic Christmas that included a Latin version of Ave Maria. She also sang an overdubbed duet with Elvis Presley on the 2008 RCA album Christmas Duets.
Sing: Chapter 1, her first studio album in six years, was released on February 3, 2009, on Curb Records. This album is largely composed of cover songs, except for the title track, an original composition by Rodney Crowell. It also reunites her with producers Brent Maher and Don Potter, who produced all of the Judds' 1980s albums. This album's lead-off single is "I Hear You Knocking", a blues standard first recorded by Smiley Lewis. On May 9, 2009, a seven-song EP containing dance remixes of the title track was released.
On September 14, 2010, the Judds appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show where Wynonna discussed "her recent weight loss, her year of living dangerously and what it's like going back on stage as part of the iconic duo, the Judds". The Judds also performed their new single "I Will Stand By You", released October 4, 2010. "I Will Stand By You" was released as the title track to the Judd's 2011 Greatest Hits collection, I Will Stand by You: The Essential Collection.
In 2011, Judd released her first novel, Restless Heart.
A new single, "Love It Out Loud" was released in May 2011. On November 27, 2011, Wynonna debuted her new band "Wynonna & the Big Noise" in Nashville, TN at 3rd and Lindsley. In March 2013 Wynonna released "Something You Can't Live Without", the first single off her forthcoming full-length album, produced by her husband/drummer Cactus Moser and set for release 2013 on Curb Records. This album—her first with all new material in over four years—was recorded in her own home studio and is deeply personal, especially noting the life-changing events the couple experienced in 2012.
Judd released a new studio album, Wynonna & the Big Noise, on February 12, 2016. The album produced Two singles 'Jesus And A Jukebox' and Things I Lean On'.
In October 2020, Wynonna released a new extended play titled ‘Recollections’ via Anti Records
On April 30, 2022, nineteen days after the final performance of The Judds at the 2022 CMT Music Awards and a day before The Judds would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as a duo, Wynonna's mother, Naomi, died. After suffering from depression and mental illness for many years, she passed on from a self-inflected gunshot wound.  The Judds were inducted into the Hall of Fame the following day, with Wynonna and her sister Ashley paying tribute to their mother on stage. At Naomi's televised memorial service on May 15, Wynonna announced that she would honor the original tour dates she and her mother had planned for summer 2022 as a tribute to her.
Judd provided the voice of the rock star Molly Cule in the cartoon The Magic School Bus (Meets Molly Cule) and Blue's Clues in 1999. During the fifth season of Touched by an Angel, Judd guest starred as a singer whose son was dying of cystic fibrosis. In the year 2005 Judd was a guest star on the show Hope & Faith in the episode "Wife Swap: Part 1 and Part 2" where she played the mean and rich Cynthia. In October 2005, she sang "It's About Love" for the VeggieTales episode Lord of the Beans. In 2007, Wynonna starred in a special television event on NBC honoring her 23-year career titled "Wynonna: A Tribute on Ice", which featured skating champions such as Kimmie Meissner and Brian Boitano. Both Wynonna and Naomi performed on this special. Additionally, in 2006, Wynonna hosted the fourth season of USA Network's Nashville Star. She also appeared as herself on the NBC sitcom Kath & Kim. In August 2009, she guest starred as herself on the 10th anniversary of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with Regis Philbin for Backpack Ministries. In May 2010, she guest starred as herself on season 4, episode 6 on Lifetime's Army Wives. In November 2020, Judd was a supporting character, Marilyn Jinway, in the Hallmark Television film A Nashville Christmas Carol.
On April 10, 2011, the Judds debuted on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The six episode American reality-documentary television series followed the daily life of Wynonna and Naomi Judd as they prepared for and traveled on tour. The series also shed light on the duo as they worked to strengthen their bond.
Dancing with the Stars
Wynonna was a contestant on season 16 of Dancing with the Stars. She was partnered with all-star season champion Tony Dovolani. She and Tony Dovolani were the first couple eliminated on April 2, but second to leave, because of Dorothy Hamill's injury.
Honors and recognition
In 2005, she received the USO's Merit Award for service to all divisions of the United States Armed Forces and teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to record "Heart of America", with Michael McDonald and Eric Benét, which in turn helped raise over $90 million for victims of natural disasters to the Gulf Coast. She continues to bring attention to the global emergency of AIDS in her fourth year as United States Ambassador for YouthAIDS.
On June 7, 2008, Wynonna sat down for a live Internet chat for her fans in which she was asked questions submitted during the session. Over 6,000 fans signed up in a 5-minute span causing the server to crash. A total of 18,000 fans eventually logged on to watch Wynonna's chat live via Stickam.com. In 2009, she also became the spokeswoman for Alli, the only FDA-approved over-the-counter weight loss product, which featured the artist in a national marketing campaign.
Wynonna met Arch Kelley III in 1993, and their son Elijah Judd was born on December 23, 1994, in Nashville. The couple married on January 21, 1996, when she was four months pregnant with their second child.
Wynonna's second husband was her former bodyguard, D. R. Roach, whom she married on November 22, 2003, in Tennessee. On March 22, 2007, he was arrested for sexual assault of a child under the age of 13; she filed for divorce five days later.
In November 2003, Wynonna taped an appearance on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show discussing what she described as a severe dependence on food. The episode aired in February 2004. Judd had been working with the show in an effort to lose a significant amount of weight and get to the root of her dependence. In September 2005, she made a second appearance on the show, discussing how she had lost some weight and had patched up relationships with her mother and with the man whom she considered her dad, Michael Ciminella, from whom she had been estranged for almost a decade.
Wynonna was also a judge for the 6th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.
On December 24, 2011, Judd became engaged to her boyfriend, musician Cactus Moser, best known as the drummer for Highway 101. They married on June 10, 2012, at her home in Leiper's Fork, Tennessee. On August 18, 2012, Moser was severely injured in a motorcycle crash in South Dakota. He was on U.S. Route 16 in the Black Hills when he crossed the center line and hit a car, which resulted in his left leg having to be amputated above the knee.
In June 2018, Wynonna's daughter Grace was sentenced to 8 years in prison for violating her probation period. She pleaded guilty to possession, manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamines.
- Wynonna (1992)
- Tell Me Why (1993)
- Revelations (1996)
- The Other Side (1997)
- New Day Dawning (2000)
- What the World Needs Now Is Love (2003)
- A Classic Christmas (2006)
- Sing: Chapter 1 (2009)
- Wynonna & the Big Noise (2016)
- Recollections (2020)
- Are You Ready For The Country (2021)
- Collection (1997)
- Love Heals (2010)
- Love Can Build a Bridge: Songs of Faith, Hope & Love (2015)
- All-Time Greatest Hits (2018)
- The Reunion (1999)
- Live From Venice (2002)
- Her Story: Scenes From A Lifetime (2005)
- Live From My Place (2021)
Awards and nominations
- 1992: Country Single (No One Else On Earth) Award
- 1992: Best New Country Artist Award
- 1992: Best Selling Country Female Award
- 1992: Female Vocalist Nomination
- 1992: Best Album Nomination
- 1992: Best Duo (with Clint Black) Nomination
- 1994: Female Vocalist of the Year Nomination
- 1993: Concert of the Year (Black and Wy) Award
- 1993: Top Female Vocalist Nomination
- 1993: Album of the Year Nomination
- 1994: Top Female Artist Award
- 2003: Humanitarian of the Year Nomination
- 1993: Best Female Country Vocal Performance: "Wynonna" - Nomination
- 1994: Best Female Country Vocal Performance: "Only Love" - Nomination
- 1994: Best Country Vocal Collaboration: "A Bad Goodbye" (w/ Clint Black) - Nomination
- 1995: Best Female Country Vocal Performance: "Is It Over Yet" - Nomination
- 1997: Favorite Female/Country Nomination
- 1997: Top Female/Country Nomination
- 2005: Favorite Country Recorded Song Nomination
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