How Wynonna Judd Is "Turning My Pain Into Purpose" After Mom Naomi Judd's Death

Wynonna Judd, who is being honored with the Country Champion Award at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards, exclusively shared with E! News how she continues to honor late mom Naomi Judd's legacy.

By Gabrielle Chung Sep 29, 2023 12:15 AMTags
Watch: People's Choice Country Awards: MUST-SEE Red Carpet Recap

Wynonna Judd saw more than just light at the 2023 People's Choice Country Awards.

The "No One Else On Earth" singer is being honored with the first-ever Country Champion Award for both her music and philanthropic work at the Sept. 28 ceremony, an achievement she said that hits close to home. As Wynonna exclusively shared with E! News on the red carpet, "It means that my son and daughter realize how hard I've work and it pays off." (See all the red carpet arrivals here.)

"It's easy to stand up here with sparkles and hair and everything grand," continued the 59-year-old, who is mom to kids Elijah, 28, and Grace, 27," but I'll go home tonight and wake up, get on a plane and fly to Denver to do one show—because that's what we do."

While the 2022 death of her mom Naomi Judd—with whom she made up the country music duo The Judds—has had a "devastating" impact on the family, Wynonna believes the singer's legacy lives on when she channels her grief into music.

"I'm turning my pain into purpose," she shared, "and I go on stage every night and I sing like it's my last show because you never know."

People's Choice Country Awards 2023: All the Country Couples on the Red Carpet

Wynonna is one of the two major honorees at the inaugural PCCAs, with hitmaker Toby Keith receiving the Country Icon Award.

The "I Saw the Light" artist's special recognition comes more than a year after Naomi died by suicide at 76.  


Todd Williamson/NBC via Getty Images

Previously, Wynonna told E! News that she works hard to keep her mother's memory alive for the rest of the family, sharing, "I'm the matriarch now."

"She took us out in the woods and made us sit still in the cold and read us the Christmas story about Jesus," Wynonna recalled of her mother. "I used to complain about having to go to the bathroom because we had so much clothes on. I miss her. I'm going to miss those times. So, I'm going to do it to my grandchildren."

Though the country star admitted she was still "in pain" at the time over the tragic loss, she shared that grief has taught her to embrace life's ebbs and flows.

"If it's ebb, let it go," she explained. "If it's flow, be grateful."

See Wynonna, as well as more country music stars, at the 2023 PCCAs below.

Kristin Cavallari

Kane Brown

In Allen Edmond shoes.

Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott & Dave Haywood of Lady A

Blake Shelton & Wynonna Judd

Eric Decker & Jessie James Decker

Jessie in Simkhai.

Dan + Shay

Kelsea Ballerini

In Coach.

Nikki Garcia

In Moschino.

The Brothers Osborne

HARDY & Lainey Wilson

Carly Pearce

Chris Young

Mickey Guyton

Toby Keith & Tricia Lucus

Carly Waddell

Hannah Brown

In Pamella Roland dress and Alexandre Birman shoes.

Jason Tartick

In Allen Edmond shoes.

Jimi Westbrook, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman & Phillip Sweet of Little Big Town

Gabby Barrett

Scotty McCreery & Gabi Dugal McCreery

Wynonna Judd

Tanya Trotter & Michael Trotter Jr. of The War and Treaty

Adam Doleac

Lauren Alaina

Randy Travis & Mary Davis

Priscilla Block

Hunter Hayes

Dustin Lynch

Leanne Morgan

Drew Knotts & Tayler Holder

View More Photos From 2023 People's Choice Country Awards: Red Carpet Fashion

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