Naomi Judd, singer of The Judds, dies at 76

“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” Wynonna and Ashley Judd said in a statement.

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Naomi Judd performs at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, June 13, 2009.

Naomi Judd performs at the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, Tenn., Saturday, June 13, 2009.

Josh Anderson/AP file

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Naomi Judd, the Kentucky-born singer of the Grammy-winning duo The Judds and mother of Wynonna and Ashley Judd, has died. She was 76.

The daughters announced her death on Saturday in a statement provided to The Associated Press.

“Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness,” the statement said. “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.” The statement did not elaborate further.

The Judds were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday and they had just announced an arena tour to begin in the fall, their first tour together in over a decade.

The mother-daughter performers scored 14 No. 1 songs in a career that spanned nearly three decades. After rising to the top of country music, they called it quits in 1991 after doctors diagnosed Naomi Judd with hepatitis.

The Judds’ hits included “Love Can Build a Bridge” in 1990,” Mama He’s Crazy” in 1984, “Why Not Me” in 1984,” Turn It Loose” in 1988, “Girls Night Out” in 1985, “Rockin’ With the Rhythm of the Rain” in 1986 and “Grandpa” in 1986.

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Wynonna Judd, left, and her mother, Naomi Judd, of The Judds, perform during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta on Jan. 30, 1994.

Eric Draper/AP file

Originally from Kentucky, Naomi was working as a nurse when she and Wynonna started singing together professionally. Their unique harmonies, together with elements of acoustic music, bluegrass and blues, made them stand out in the genre at the time.

The Judds released six studio albums and an EP between 1984 and 1991 and won nine Country Music Association Awards and seven from the Academy of Country Music. They earned a total of five Grammy Awards together on hits like “Why Not Me” and “Give A Little Love.”

The Judds sang about family, the belief in marriage and the virtue of fidelity. Because Naomi was so young looking, the two were mistaken for sisters early in their career.

Daughter Ashley Judd is an actor known for her roles in such movies as “Kiss the Girls,” “Double Jeopardy” and “Heat.”

Naomi Judd is also survived by her husband and fellow singer, Larry Strickland, who was a backup singer for Elvis Presley.

Ashley Judd, right, and her mother, Naomi Judd, arrive at the LA premiere of “Olympus Has Fallen,” at the ArcLight Theatre, Monday, March 18, 2013, in Los Angeles.

Ashley Judd, right, and her mother, Naomi Judd, arrive at the LA premiere of “Olympus Has Fallen,” at the ArcLight Theatre, Monday, March 18, 2013, in Los Angeles.

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP file

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