After growing up poor in Appalachia, Country star Wynonna Judd has said she has gone from a “White House addiction” throughout her career.
In the ’80s, she and her mother, Naomi Judd, topped the country music charts as the tousled-haired duo, The Judds. And after saying goodbye in 1991, Wynonna debuted as a solo artist to continue her success.
But she didn’t limit her enormous talent and legendary name to music. In 2019, she met with White House officials about her involvement in criminal justice reform efforts.
Wynonna Judd grew up in Kentucky before her country music career
Naomi Judd had her eldest daughter just weeks before graduating from high school in Kentucky. Then she moved to California and had another daughter, Ashley Judd. After her marriage to Ashley’s father ended, she moved back to Kentucky and eventually became a nurse.
According to Wynonna Judd, she went from a “White House addiction” thanks to her country music career. “We lived in Appalachia – nothing to do, no TV, no phone. I was forced to listen to NPR against my will,” she said. NPR.
“If we didn’t do it or grow it, we didn’t have it,” she said of her “filthy poor” childhood, per PBS.
So, she learned to play the guitar and began regularly harmonizing with her mother as they sat on the back porch or around a fire. “Wynonna and I couldn’t talk to each other, but, low and lo and behold, we could sing together,” Naomi Judd said, adding that the old country songs they sang were like a “balm” between them.
Wynonna Judd made a successful career in country music with her mother in The Judds
Over the years, Naomi Judd became sure that her daughter had a talent as a record seller. So she moved the family to Nashville where country stars like Dolly Parton had found a start. While working there as a nurse, a patient helped the mother-daughter duo audition with a record producer.
Wynonna Judd was 18 at the time of this encounter. “I really felt like I was going to [the] the main office. I used to sing,” she said per PBS. “I wasn’t used to being in a conference room full of men.“
They seriously impressed the room and were offered a deal within two hours. They spent seven years at the top of their game, but Naomi eventually retired due to health reasons and Wynonna went solo.
Wynonna Judd met with White House officials about a prison reform initiative
According to People, Wynonna Judd met with White House officials in 2019 to discuss prison reform efforts. “It’s the start of a new chapter for me,” she said.
Although her career is in music, she was working with a non-profit organization called Hope for Prisoners after her daughter was incarcerated. Grace Pauline Kelley went to prison in 2017 for violating her probation for previous drug-related convictions. She served two sentences over eight years and was released six years earlier at age 23, by People.
His experience inspired Judd to undertake efforts to reform the system with an emphasis on reintegration programs. She reportedly discussed ways the White House could help reduce the “rate of returning to prison.”
RELATED: Naomi Judd overcame ‘debilitating and life-threatening’ depression with ‘radical acceptance’