Wynonna Talks Lessons Late Mom Naomi Judd Taught Her: 'Never Let 'Em Tell You Who You Are' (Exclusive)

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The People's Choice Country Awards 'Country Champion' honoree reflects on her late mother's tough love

<p>Ed Rode/WireImage</p> Wynonna Judd (left) photographed while performing with Naomi Judd in Nashville

It has been over a year since the tragic death of Naomi Judd, but her daughter, Wynonna Judd, is hoping to keep her mother’s legacy alive for generations to come.

While attending the 2023 People’s Choice Country Awards held at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Wynonna, who was honored with the “Country Champion” award, spoke candidly about the longstanding impact that Naomi’s teachings have had on her.

“She was a hard, hard, strict single parent, and she said, ‘Give it away. You're supposed to only keep the cup for yourself, and you give away the overflow.’” Wynonna, 59, told PEOPLE of her late mother’s penchant for charitable giving.

<p>Terry Wyatt/Getty</p> Wynonna Judd at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards in Nashville on Sept. 28, 2023

Terry Wyatt/Getty

Wynonna Judd at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards in Nashville on Sept. 28, 2023

Wynonna doubled down by adding, “So you keep enough for yourself, but then you give away the overflow. And that's what I've been doing now for 40 years.”

The legendary country singer’s philanthropic efforts have been well-documented throughout her career. To date, she has contributed to the likes of the Children’s Miracle Network, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Habitat for Humanity. Wynonna has also supported breast cancer awareness as well as been involved in a variety of humanitarian efforts such as disaster relief and international aid.

Related: See the Best Dressed Stars at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards

Those efforts and more are the reason why Wynonna was crowned the “Country Champion” at the inaugural award show, which came as a result of “her decades-long commitment to philanthropy and social advocacy,” according to the People’s Choice Country Awards.

To Wynonna, none of this would have been possible without the lessons that Naomi taught her throughout her life. The Grammy-winner notes that the most important thing her mother conveyed to her was “To say no when it doesn't feel right.”

<p>Katherine Bomboy/NBC via Getty </p> Wynonna Judd performs at the People's Choice Country Awards in Nashville on Sept. 28, 2023

Katherine Bomboy/NBC via Getty

Wynonna Judd performs at the People's Choice Country Awards in Nashville on Sept. 28, 2023

“She was really good at teaching me ‘Never let 'em tell you who you are. Never,’” Wynonna explained. However, she maintains awareness of the struggles that her mother encountered in life, ultimately dying by suicide in April 2022. “She didn't make it though. She didn't do the same for herself.”

To honor Naomi and the legendary music that she and Wynonna created, the singer is releasing A Tribute to The Judds, a compilation album featuring renditions of some of The Judds’ biggest hits, sung by her country music peers. The likes of Dolly Parton, Lainey Wilson, Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, Carly Pearce and a slew of other major stars have been tapped to contribute to the project, which is due out on Oct. 27.

Related: See Every Star Arriving at the Inaugural People's Choice Country Awards 2023: PHOTOS

“It's beautiful. It's really weird. I listened to it and I cried and I was overwhelmed,” Wynonna said of taking in A Tribute to The Judds for the first time.

She also told PEOPLE that she’s looking to break through to a new demographic of listeners by working with some of the biggest stars in country music today. “There's a whole generation of people that don't know our music, right? The kids that are born now, I'm hoping that someone will listen and go, ‘Huh, I really like that.’ So that's my hope, is that somebody gets it.”

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