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24 Years Ago: Naomi Judd Announces Retirement

Naomi Judd
Stephen Cohen, Getty Images

This date (Oct. 17) in 1990 was undoubtedly one of the most difficult days for the Judds, and especially for Naomi Judd.

It was on this day that Judd made the surprise announcement that she was retiring from the award-winning duo she had formed with her daughter Wynonna Judd, and from music entirely, because of her diagnosis of Hepatitis C — a potentially fatal disease that affects the liver. The pair were in the middle of their successful Love Can Build a Bridge Tour when the then-44-year-old was given the devastating news.

“I have always told Wy and our fans the only thing that could stop me from this career that I so desperately love is my health. Unfortunately, that has happened,” Judd said (quote via the Los Angeles Times).

It was also announced that Wynonna would continue making music as a solo artist, while Naomi was expected to step out of the limelight and focus solely on her health. But to everyone’s surprise, including maybe Naomi’s most of all, her retirement became more of a resurgence.

After the Judds wrapped their farewell tour in 1991, the elder Judd became an active spokesperson for the American Liver Foundation, and also created the Naomi Judd Education and Research Fund. She devoted much of her time and resources to education and support for those dealing with the deadly disorder.

In 1999, Judd starred in a TV movie, ‘A Holiday Romance,’ and returned to the stage with Wynonna, performing together for a New Year’s Eve concert in Phoenix, Ariz. She followed that performance by a marked return to the spotlight, joining her daughter on their cross-country Power to Change Tour in 2000 and appearing on several TV shows, including Hallmark’s ‘Naomi’s New Morning’ in 2005 and as a judge on CMT’s ‘Can You Duet’ in 2008. Judd also authored several books, including ‘Naomi’s Guide to Aging Gracefully.’

While it is uncommon for people with Hepatitis C to lead such a productive life, the Kentucky native says a combination of conventional and alternative medicine, including taking plenty of vitamins each day and eating a healthy diet, helped cure her of the illness.

‘I feel strongly about antioxidants,’ Judd says (quote via “I’m fortunate in that I live in the wilderness and have clean air and pure water. Any time I go into the city, I double my antioxidant dosages.”

Since her miraculous recovery, the mother and daughter reunited on stage in 2010 for their final tour, The Last Encore, and appeared together on a reality show in 2011 on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. Judd also acted in a Hallmark movie, ‘Nearlyweds,’ in 2013, and continues to make appearances speaking about her battle with and recovery from Hepatitis C.

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