Music is a Healer- The Judds Final Tour Kicks Off in Grand Rapids, MI
J.C Bosch for Country Music News International Magazine
GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN- The Judds Final Tour kicked off Friday, September 30, at the Van Andel Arena exactly five months after country music’s iconic legend Naomi Judd’s passing. Wynonna Judd took to the stage opening night to roaring applause as she appeared in the middle of the arena, rising from a stage lifter belting out a Judd classic “Had A Dream (For the Heart).” Making her way to the main stage, through the audience, to the delight of fans who got an up close moment with the Country Music Hall of Famer, Wynonna paid touching tribute to the life and legacy of her late mother, Naomi Judd in a 26-song set that included Judd hits such as “I Know Where I’m Going,” “Love is Alive,” and “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain.” Her powerhouse voice was nothing short of spectacular as Wynonna mixed songs such as “Tell Me Why” and “She Is His Only Need” from her solo career into the night’s arrangement, along with a stunning rendition of Foreigner’s hit, “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
The journey through The Judds musical history and legacy was an emotional rollercoaster as Wynonna struggled to get through some of The Judds’ most heartfelt pieces such as “Young Love” and “River of Time,” which she last sang at the memorial service for her mother, in Nashville, earlier this year. Nothing, however, could prepare fans for the heart wrenching, powerful finale, as footage from The Judds Farewell Tour in 1991 appeared on a large video screen. Mother-daughter sang, in sync, their most famous hit, “Love Can Build a Bridge,” co-written by Naomi Judd, which would also, sadly, wind up being their last performance together at the CMT Awards in April of this year. The nearly sold-out audience was brought to tears when Naomi spoke to the crowd from the three-decade old clip: “I believe in the power of LOVE. And I believe there is always HOPE,” prompting Wynonna to add her own words of hope and inspiration, saying, “Thank you Mama for writing this song. I will continue to sing it for all the days of my life.”
Wynonna gave way to the emotional strains of the evening at the end of her encore performance of “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days),” acknowledging the grief. “God, it hurts, doesn’t it,” she addressed the fans, “Man, I’ll tell you what, life is really crazy. I would have never dreamt tonight in a million years. God bless you, Michigan,” as tears streamed down her face to the thunderous applause from the audience whose love and admiration for the legendary duo electrified the arena.
Joined by Brandi Carlile, for the first two stops of the 11-city tour dubbed, “Girl’s Night Out,” the Final Tour will continue with other musical guests such as Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Ashley McBryde, Kelsea Ballerini, and Trisha Yearwood throughout the various dates of the tour, which runs through October 29 before wrapping up with a show at Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY. Martina McBride is set to open all the shows along the tour.
Wynonna announced her decision, to continue with the tour following Naomi’s death at the May 15th celebration of her mother’s life and musical career,
“So, I made a decision and I thought I’d share it on national television. After a lot of thought, I’m going to have to honor her and do this tour. I’m just going to have to,” she said, to a wave of cheers and applause from the audience.
“I didn’t know if I could go on without her,” Wynonna emotionally continued. “Oh, God. Life is so strange. It’s so devastatingly beautiful what happened here tonight, so we will continue this spectacle. That’s what she would want, right?”
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