CMT Awards 2023: Wynonna Judd Pays Tribute to Late Mom Naomi Judd During Performance


Wynonna Judd used the stage at the 2023 CMT Awards to pay tribute to her beloved mother, the other half of The Judds. Naomi died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound last year at 76, following decades of battling depression and mental illness. Wynnona told Entertainment Tonight that her return to the CMT Music Awards is "bittersweet." She performed "I Want To Know What Love Is" alongside Ashley McBryde. During the performance, Wynonna pointed to the sky and said, "Mama, you need to be here." Last year marked Wynonna and Naomi's first TV performance in two decades at the 2022 CMTs. The performance turned out to be the duo's final one together. Days after her passing, The Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. "I'm going to use my time to talk to anyone out there who is struggling," Wynonna told ET's Cassie DiLaura. "It's an opportunity to help somebody." 

Days before the show, Wynnona gave fans an update about how things are currently for her. In a series of Instagram posts on her property in Tennessee with family and loves ones. She captioned the post: "How it's going."

Last year, she told CBS Sunday Morning that she said goodbye to her mother in the hospital after she was rushed there on the date of her death. "I got the call, and I went over, and I saw her, and that was that," Wynonna said. "I said goodbye to her in the hospital, and I closed her eyes, and I kissed her forehead, and that was that. And the next thing I know, I'm sitting here on the front porch, on the side porch ... you know, and I'm just tryin' to figure out what's next." 

Since her death, Wynnona and Ashley have been fighting to have some death records sealed from the public. In the filing, they note the "private, incredibly sensitive" information within the files. 

According to Radar Online, the file allegedly contains handwritten notes by the detective on worked the case, body camera photos of the scene and the weapon, and photographs of texts with Ashley Judd and the Judd family psychologist. Also included is the pair of 911 calls from the tragic incident, an audio recording of Naomi Judd, and a slew of photos from the home exterior and interior.

 Country singer Kelsea Ballerini opened the CMT Music Awards with a tribute to victims of a school shooting while sharing in that community’s grief, then danced alongside drag artists as states across the country consider legally limiting drag show performances,

Ballerini, a co-host of the annual awards show with singer Kane Brown, opened the Austin, Texas, show by listing the names of six victims three adults and three 9-year-olds who were killed Monday at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. She noted how she shared their pain, explaining that in 2008 she witnessed a school shooting in her hometown high school cafeteria in Knoxville and prayed for “real action” that would protect children and families.

About two hours into the fan-voted awards show, the Tennessee native sang “If You Go Down (I’m Going Down Too)” and danced with Kennedy Davenport, Jan Sport, Manila Luzon, and Olivia Lux, all stars of the show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

Her home state of Tennessee was the first to place strict limits on drag show performances, which were set to take effect this month. The law has been temporarily blocked after a lawsuit was filed earlier this week.

Country superstar and five-time Grammy winner Shania Twain were given the Equal Play Award, recognizing her for being a “visible and vocal advocate” for diverse voices in country music. Texas native and Grammy-winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion introduced Twain, the pair dancing and hugging to Twain’s hit, “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.”

The lyrics to the song became an undercurrent to a decades-long career of advocacy, Twain said.

“I promise I will continue to champion the many outstanding country artists that are not currently playing, they are not currently streamed, toured, signed or awarded at the level they deserve,” Twain said. “I believe in all-inclusive country music.”

Leading nominee Lainey Wilson picked up early wins with female video of the year for “Heart Like a Truck” and collaborative video of the year for “Wait in the Truck” with HARDY.

“My heart is about to beat right out my chest, I’ll be honest with y’all,” Wilson said after winning female video of the year, calling the hit song an anthem for surviving the “scratches, the dents and the bumps along the way.”

This year’s CMT Music Awards merged country, rock, and blues straight from the heart of Texas, featuring performances including collaborations with Alanis Morissette, The Black Crowes, Gwen Stefani, and Gary Clark Jr. and tributes to Lynyrd Skynyrd and Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Country Music Hall of Famer Wynonna Judd and Ashley Judd performed a cover of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love is” while heavy fog rolled over the stage and into the crowd.

Pop singer Stefani performed her No Doubt mid-1990s pop-punk hit “Just a Girl” alongside country singer Carly Pearce. Jelly Roll, already a double winner, brought a choir out for his prayer-themed song “Need a Favor” and got the crowd to raise their hands to the roof.

Carrie Underwood has a chance to extend her record as the most-awarded artist in CMT history with 25 awards. Underwood, who also will perform, was nominated again for video of the year for “Hate My Heart.”

Four-time Grammy winner Clark Jr. performed a tribute to the late Texas guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn at the top of the show.

Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd will be honored with a tribute performance following the death in March of the last original member, Gary Rossington. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Slash of Guns N’ Roses, and the Allman Brothers’ Warren Haynes and Chuck Leavell are set to perform with singers Paul Rodgers and Cody Johnson with backup vocals from LeAnn Rimes and Judd.


The CMT (Country Music Television) Music Awards took place on Sunday at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas.

The celebratory event, voted on by the fans, was hosted by Kelsea Ballerini and Kane Brown, who were both nominees this year and performed during the broadcast.

Kane, along with his spouse Katelyn Brown, made history by becoming the first husband-and-wife duo to win the coveted video of the year award at the end of the night for their 2022 song “Thank God,” also marking the first time each of them has won in the category.

Rapper and country singer Jelly Roll won big as well on Sunday, taking home three trophies including the male breakthrough video of the year.

The ceremony featured performances by Gwen Stefani, Carrie Underwood, LeAnn Rimes, Keith Urban, and Alanis Morissette, who made her CMT debut with a performance that celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the “CMT Next Women of Country.”

Country music icon Shania Twain received the 2023 “CMT Equal Play Award,” and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lynyrd Skynyrd were honored with tribute performances by various artists.

Underwood remains the CMT Awards all-time winner with 25 wins total but did not take home any trophies on Sunday.

The following is the full list of nominees with the winners indicated in bold.

Video of the year

Ashley McBryde, Caylee Hammack, Brandy Clark & Pillbox Patti - “Bonfire at Tina’s”

Blake Shelton - “No Body”

Carrie Underwood - “Hate My Heart”

Cody Johnson - “Human”

Elle King feat. Dierks Bentley - “Worth a Shot”

Gabby Barrett - “Pick Me Up”

HARDY feat. Lainey Wilson - “wait in the truck”

Jimmie Allen - “Down Home”

Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown - “Thank God” *WINNER

Keith Urban - “Wild Hearts”

Kelsea Ballerini - “HEARTFIRST”

Little Big Town - “Rich Man”

Luke Bryan - “Country On”

Luke Combs - “The Kind of Love We Make”

Morgan Wallen - “You Proof”

Walker Hayes - “AA”

Female video of the year

Carly Pearce - “What He Didn’t Do”

Carrie Underwood - “Ghost Story”

Gabby Barrett - “Pick Me Up”

Kelsea Ballerini - “HEARTFIRST”

Lainey Wilson - “Heart Like a Truck” *WINNER

Maren Morris - “Humble Quest”

Miranda Lambert - “Actin’ Up”

Male video of the year

Bailey Zimmerman - “Rock and a Hard Place”

Cody Johnson - “Human”

Cole Swindell - “She Had Me at Heads Carolina”

Jelly Roll - “Son of a Sinner” *WINNER

Kane Brown - “Like I Love Country Music”

Luke Combs - “The Kind of Love We Make”

Morgan Wallen - “Wasted on You”

Group/duo video of the year

Dan + Shay - “You (Performance Video)”

Lady A - “Summer State of Mind”

Little Big Town - “Hell Yeah”

Parmalee - “Take My Name”

The War and Treaty - “That’s How Love Is Made”

Zac Brown Band - “Out in the Middle” *WINNER

Female breakthrough video of the year

Avery Anna - “Narcissist”

Kylie Morgan - “If He Wanted to He Would”

MacKenzie Porter - “Pickup”

Megan Moroney - “Tennessee Orange” *WINNER

Morgan Wade - “Wilder Days”

Tiera Kennedy - “Found It in You”

Male breakthrough video of the year

Bailey Zimmerman - “Fall in Love”

Corey Kent - “Wild as Her”

Drake Milligan - “Sounds Like Something I’d Do”

Jackson Dean - “Don’t Come Lookin’”

Jelly Roll - “Son of a Sinner” *WINNER

Nate Smith - “Whiskey on You”

Collaborative video of the year

Elle King feat. Dierks Bentley - “Worth a Shot”

HARDY feat. Lainey Wilson - “Wait in the truck” *WINNER

Ingrid Andress with Sam Hunt - “Wishful Drinking”

Kane Brown & Katelyn Brown - “Thank God”

Midland feat. Jon Pardi - “Longneck Way to Go”

Russell Dickerson feat. Jake Scott - “She Likes It”

Thomas Rhett & Katy Perry - “Where We Started”

CMT performance of the year

Black Pumas & Mickey Guyton - “Colors” (from 2022 CMT MUSIC AWARDS)

Chris Stapleton - “Whenever You Come Around” (from “CMT Giants: Vince Gill”)

Cody Johnson - “‘Til You Can’t” (from 2022 CMT MUSIC AWARDS) *WINNER

Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson - “Never Say Never” (from 2022 CMT MUSIC AWARDS)

Darius Rucker - “Let Her Cry” (from “CMT Storytellers”)

Emmy Russell & Lukas Nelson - “Lay Me Down” (from “Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Loretta Lynn”)

LeAnn Rimes with Ashley McBryde & Carly Pearce - “One Way Ticket” (from “CMT Crossroads: LeAnn Rimes & Friends”)

Keith Urban - “Wild Hearts” (from 2022 CMT MUSIC AWARDS)

The Judds - “Love Can Build a Bridge” (from 2022 CMT MUSIC AWARDS)

Wynonna Judd & Brandi Carlile - “The Rose” (from “Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration”)

CMT digital-first performance of the year

Charley Crockett - “Time of the Cottonwood Trees” (from “CMT Campfire Sessions”)

Chris Young - “Gettin’ You Home” (from “CMT Stages”)

Ingrid Andress - “Wishful Drinking” (from “CMT Studio Sessions”)

Jelly Roll - “Son of a Sinner” (from “CMT All Access”) *WINNER

Megan Moroney - “Tennessee Orange” (from “CMT Viral to Verified”)

Scotty McCreery - “Damn Strait” (from “CMT Campfire Sessions”)

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