From humble beginnings as a single mother in a small Kentucky town to her meteoric rise as a country music superstar and American icon, Naomi Judd's incredible lifelong journey is an inspiring story of overcoming the odds through optimism and hard work. Now she will bring that same kind of commitment to NRDC's campaign to end mountaintop removal coal mining, as she joins the burgeoning ranks of performers who are part of our Music Saves Mountains initiative.
[UPDATE: Early press coverage of Naomi's entry into our campaign.]
Naomi Judd was first known to the world as half of country music's mother/daughter duo, The Judds. Reaching unprecedented success throughout the 80's and 90's, The Judds sold 20 million records, scored fourteen #1 hits and received over sixty industry awards, including six Grammy's and seven consecutive CMA Vocal Group of the Year awards and the ACM's Top Vocal Duet award. At the pinnacle of their career, Naomi was stricken with Hepatitis C, a potentially fatal chronic liver disease, incurred from an infected needle when she worked as a registered nurse, cutting short her musical career and forcing her into retirement to battle the disease.
The Judds bid farewell to the fans in 1991, but Naomi did not step out of the public spotlight for long. Today, Naomi is a survivor of Hepatitis C and served as the first national spokesperson for the American Liver Foundation. She also continues humanitarian efforts including River Cities Harvest, the Saint Louis University Liver Center, M.A.D.D., Parents Television Council, Make-A-Difference Day, Women's World Peace Initiative, the National Domestic Violence Hotline -- and even created her own July 4th Judd's Annual Food Drive to benefit families of Appalachia.
As she prepares to hit the road for "The Judds: Final Encore" tour later this year, NRDC is delighted that Naomi will use her fame and her passion for helping people to shine a spotlight on an atrocity in her native Appalachia -- the systematic decapitation of America's oldest mountains by coal companies.
"I care about people and I like to help, it's that simple," says Naomi. "To me, what is happening to the Appalachian Mountains is horrible but even worse is what mountaintop removal is doing to the people who live in those communities. Traditional coal mining jobs are being eliminated by mechanization and the incessant blasting and pollution is endangering coalfield communities."
Naomi learned about this controversial strip mining practice from her daughter, actress Ashley Judd. At NRDC's recent "Music Saves Mountains" benefit concert in Nashville, Naomi opened the show with heartfelt remarks about the cultural significance of Appalachia to country music.
"The Appalachian region is the backbone of America and we simply cannot forsake our natural and national heritage for short-term profits that leave the region worse off than it was before," said Naomi. "We can have coal mining without losing our heritage or hurting people."