“This special will celebrate her timeless voice, unforgettable spirit and the immense impact she left on our genre through the best form of healing we have – music.”
Country legend Naomi Judd will be honored and celebrated in a televised, public memorial service.
On Wednesday, the network announced that it has collaborated with Naomi’s daughters, Ashley and Wynonna, for a special event, which will air live and commercial-free on Sunday.
The public memorial, titled, “Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration,” will pay tribute and celebrate the life of the Grammy winner, who passed away at the age of 76 last month. The event will take place at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
“We are sincerely privileged to work alongside Wynonna and Ashley to present this live celebration of life for their mother Naomi,” CMT said in a statement. “While we all continue to deeply mourn the loss of such a legendary artist, we are honored to commemorate her legacy alongside the country community, her friends, family and legions of fans across the world at the perfect venue: The Mother Church of Country Music.”
The statement added, “This special will celebrate her timeless voice, unforgettable spirit and the immense impact she left on our genre through the best form of healing we have – music.”
The network also said more details about the celebration — such as performers — will be announced later this week.
On April 30, Ashley, 54, and Wynonna, 57, shared the heartbreaking announcement that their mother had lost her battle with mental illness.
“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” they wrote. “We are shattered. We are navigating profound grief and know that as we loved her, she was loved by her public. We are in unknown territory.”
Naomi died just one day before “The Judds,” Naomi and Wynonna’s mother-daughter country duo, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Wynonna, as well as Ashley, attended the event, and emotionally accepted the award on their mother’s behalf.
While speaking to Diane Sawyer on Thursday’s “Good Morning America,” Ashley opened up about the tragic loss of her mother, revealing that Naomi’s cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot.
“Her brain hurt, it physically hurt and I’m tasked with an exceedingly difficult task in disclosing the manner of the way my mother chose not to continue to live … because we don’t want it to be part of the gossip economy,” Ashley said. “I will share with you that she used a weapon. [My] mother used a firearm so that’s the piece of information that we are very uncomfortable sharing but understand.”
“Our mother couldn’t hang on until she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by her peers,” Ashley said. “That is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside her.”
The actress shared another devastating revelation: it was she who found her mother’s body.
“It was a mixed day,” Ashley recalled. “I visit with my mom and pop every day when I’m home in Tennessee, so I was at the house visiting as I am every day. Mom said to me, ‘Will you stay with me?’ and I said, ‘Of course, I will.’ … I went upstairs to let her know that the friend was there and I discovered her. I have both grief and trauma from discovering her.”
“Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration” will air on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on CMT.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress.