'Blessed and broken': Wynonna brings The Judds: The Final Tour to Savannah's Enmarket Arena

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Wynonna Judd was so overcome by the love emanating from the fans attending her concert in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 26, she grew dizzy on stage.

“It literally knocked me over, almost.”

To steady herself, she spread her barefoot toes, anchoring herself to the stage, and rocked back and forth.

“It swirls and goes way deep into my bones,” she described the following afternoon over the phone from Connecticut. “I can feel it. It’s pretty powerful… and I stand there, and I look up, and I think, ‘Where in the world are you and what are you doing and why aren’t you here?’”

Girls with Guitars: Wynonna Judd will appear with Martina McBride and Brandi Carlile at Enmarket Arena, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 23, for The Judds: The Final Tour.
Girls with Guitars: Wynonna Judd will appear with Martina McBride and Brandi Carlile at Enmarket Arena, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 23, for The Judds: The Final Tour.

That ‘you,’ of course, is her mother, Naomi Judd, who died April 30, 2022. They were supposed to embark on this long-planned tour together after their induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame last year – a final note for the multi-platinum mother-daughter duo who made country music history with 14 Number One singles between 1984 and 1991.

Instead, on this leg of the expanded The Judds: The Final Tour, Wynonna Judd is joined and uplifted by a chorus of rotating, primarily female country and Americana artists, who match her rich, husky vocals with sweet harmonies, taking concertgoers to church nightly. Among them: Martina McBride, Ashley McBryde, Kelsea Bellerini, Little Big Town, and Tanya Tucker. Together, they sing the hits across Judd's’s long career, including the bluesy and rock solos, as well as covers of Elvis and Foreigner songs. The fans, spanning three generations, sing along.

When Judd arrives at the Enmarket Arena in Savannah for the Feb. 23 show, she’ll be joined on stage by McBride and Brandi Carlile, fresh off a big night at the Grammys with three gilded gramophones.

‘Blessed and broken’: Wynonna Judd finds strength in friendships

“[Brandi] was one of the first people who called me when Mom died,” Judd recalled. “She showed up at the memorial with her guitar. She flew in just for the occasion. She showed up and that has bonded us for life.”

Before then, Judd had met Carlile only briefly before during the filming of a Highwomen video. Carlile revealed then that the first concert she ever attended at 7 years old was a Judds concert, and that she had a jean jacket she wore to elementary school with a Judds iron-on patch that her grandmother had stuck on the back.

Now, the two women text each other almost every day. “Brandi is very unique. She does things in such a way that I just, I marvel at her energy and her ambition and her absolute commitment to excellence. I really do,” said Judd. “She’s unparalleled. I don’t know anyone like her. She showed up at the final run-throughs [for the tour] and knew every word, every breath, every detail of the songs, and it blew my mind, because I just knew it was going to be good.”

High Notes:On the Verge with Valentín Garvie comes to Savannah to challenge your perception

Gift of Music:Barry Manilow to award Savannah High band director with $5,000 scholarship for music program

Being surrounded by artists such as Carlile has helped Judd heal both privately and publicly from a year of loss that included not only her mother but also one of her mentors, Loretta Lynn. “I just think they’re helping to carry a bit of the burden. And it lifts me, it really does. I feel this sense of being carried, and who doesn’t want to be carried when you’re tired?”

‘Every ending is a new beginning’: After the Final Tour

Judd draws energy from the crowds, but she still has days, she said, where she hunkers down on the tour bus, curls up, lights a candle, reads, and calls a friend to talk about her grief. It's gray in Connecticut, where she's calling from, and it's one of those days. She’s working harder at the self-care and talking with a counselor regularly.

It's about progress, not perfection, she said and took a deep breath.

Wynonna Judd is working on a new album with her husband and producer, Cactus Moser. She says, "I can tell you that the record is somewhere between hell and hallelujah."
Wynonna Judd is working on a new album with her husband and producer, Cactus Moser. She says, "I can tell you that the record is somewhere between hell and hallelujah."

In 2016, Wynonna and the Big Noise, her band at the time, released a song, “Every Ending is a New Beginning.” In it, she croons, ‘My faith whispers "Keep on going/Might be a miracle just over that hill/There ain't no way I'm gonna ever know it/Standing still.”

Prescient lyrics for this moment in her life.

After the The Final Tour ends in Hollywood, Florida, at the end of February, she looks forward to returning to her farm in Tennessee and celebrating the first birthday of her first grandchild — bedazzled pink boots may be involved. Her son just bought his first home and she’s anticipating the family dinners to come around his table.

She’s most definitely not standing still.

Judd has been writing songs for an upcoming album she’s working on with her husband and producer, Cactus Moser. It will be “very personal,” she said, “because, of course, of what happened… I can tell you that the record is somewhere between hell and hallelujah.”

She gets rattled, she said, if she thinks too far beyond the immediate future. “That’s the beauty of the journey sometimes, is there’s a mystery to it.”

At this moment, though, she's got a celebration to attend. It's her son's birthday, and they are going bowling.

IF YOU GO >>

The Judds: The Final Tour

Featuring Wynonna, Brandi Carlile and Martine McBride

7:30 p.m., Feb. 23, Enmarket Arena

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Brandi Carlile, Martina McBride join Wynonna Judd at Enmarket Arena