BY PAT MUIR
YAKIMA, Wash. -- The key to survival for country music star Naomi Judd -- through domestic violence, single mother-hood and life-threatening illness -- was perspective.
Judd, who spoke at the Capitol Theatre on Wednesday as part of the 2009-10 Yakima Town Hall lecture series, said she faced each of those challenges by taking a step back from what she called an "ADHD society," paying attention to herself and embracing her support system. It's a lesson she believes can apply universally "if we get out there and share our stories."
"We're all in this together," she said in an interview before the lecture.
Judd grew up in Kentucky and gave birth to her first daughter, Christine, on her high school graduation day. She married a local boy after the girl's father left town and had a second daughter, Ashley. But by the early 1970s, she was a divorced mother of two, working as a waitress in Southern California and dealing with an abusive boyfriend.
She needed to stop and get some perspective, so she moved the family back to Kentucky and raised them there. Christine, who changed her name to Wynonna, and Ashley would both grow up to be stars in the entertainment industry. Wynonna teamed with Naomi to form The Judds, a country duo that won six Grammys. Ashley became a movie actress.
Then, in 1991, doctors told Judd she had hepatitis C and would only live another three years.
"I was going to take a six-foot dirt nap," she told the Capitol Theatre crowd in an hourlong speech that included dozens of little countryisms like that.
So, again, she stopped and took a step back. Judd stopped touring with her daughter and started learning as much as she could about the relationship between emotional and physical well-being.
"I started paying attention to my own life," she said. "Start paying attention to your own life some time; it's the most fascinating thing you'll ever do."
The 64-year-old singer defied expectations and today says she is entirely free of the disease. She and Wynonna have begun recording music together again -- potentially for a full album, although Judd said it's too early to say -- and are planning an 18-date tour.
Wednesday's lecture was the third in this year's four-lecture series.
The fourth and final speaker of the year, set for April 14, will be poet, novelist and essayist Luis
Alberto Urrea. His lecture, "From Tijuana to Harvard & Beyond: One Writer's Journey," replaces the orig-inally scheduled lecture by social activist Geoffrey Canada, who canceled.
* Pat Muir can be reached at 509-577-7693, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted March 17, 2010
"I very much enjoyed the lively Yakima Town Hall group which made sharing my experiences a great pleasure. Many thanks for the invitation and I will try to keep in touch from time to time with developments from Kenya." - Louise Leakey, Leakey Family Dynasty Pioneer/Paleoanthropologist