Wynonna on whether she’d join the ‘American Idol’ panel: ‘I’m a Judd, not a judge’

Published On May 20, 2024 » By »
Wynonna Judd performs at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2023.
(Photo : Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum) Wynonna Judd performs at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2023.

A highlight of Sunday’s American Idol Season 22 finale was when two women from famous country music families — Wynonna Judd, of superstar mother/daughter duo the Judds, and top five contestant Emmy Russell, the granddaughter of late legend Loretta Lynn — dueted together on Lynn’s signature song. Wynonna, who has mentored on The Voice, loves supporting younger artists, and is never shy when it comes to telling like it is, seems like a logical successor to the Idol judging throne following Katy Perry’s exit. But, when speaking with me after the sweet performance, she wondered if she was the right woman for the job.

However, despite her reluctance, Wynonna spoke in soundbites that would make for great TV, so hopefully she will consider any ABC offers that come her way. Read on for what she had to say, in her typically colorful way.

You just performed the Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter” on the finale with Loretta’s actual granddaughter. That’s must have been an emotional experience. How are you feeling right now?

WYNONNA JUDD: It’s a process. I’m feeling God. I’m feeling pain and joy. I’m feeling Loretta and my mama [Naomi Judd] — they’re gone. And yet I’m looking at Emmy and I’m thinking, “This is the next generation. I’m getting older. I’m looking at life behind me, coming up. What can I do to be a blessing to her?” So, I’ve been paying attention to what I can say to her on a journey.

I know when the Judds started out you were very young, and you were sort of pushed into music by your mom. You didn’t have a lot of confidence then. That was a storyline Emmy had on the show: about not feeling confident, about feeling she had to live up to her family legacy. Did you connect over that at all?

Absolutely! And some of it’s private, but some of it I can share, because we all have our expectations with family. I told her just to thine own self be true. That’s hard to do sometimes, right? Because you have so many people expecting you to do stuff. But I just talked to her like I would my kid, and I just told her what I went through — which is get out there, spread your toes, squeeze your butt together, and sing from your toenails.

That’s great advice. Would you consider being the next American Idol judge?

Oh, I’m a Judd, not a judge! I can be a mentor, but I don’t think I could [judge]. I swear to you, I don’t think I could do it. We’ll see if they could talk me into it, but I doubt it. I’m too honest.

Being honest is a good thing!

It can be really bad, though! But I hear you. We’ll see, we’ll see.

If your children or grandchildren wanted to go on a show like American Idol and pursue music that way, how would you feel about that?

I don’t know what I would do. I don’t know what I would do! It’s such a long journey and it’s so up-and-down. I don’t know, my son has a real job and he’s happy. I don’t know what to tell them other than follow their hearts, but so far nobody wants to do [music]. I think they’ve seen me struggle so much and accept so much responsibility, as well as have the American dream at the same time. It’s just too much of a good thing. But God intended for me to do it, so I’m still here, 45 years later. How is that possible? It is what it is, right?

You recently went on tour with Ashley McBryde. What was that experience like?

I think it’s really important to share your wisdom with other people. I think it would be so boring — wouldn’t it? — if it was all just about me. I would be so bored out of my mind. Ashley McBride is one of my favorite voices in country music, just like today is Lainey Wilson’s birthday and I called her up. They know I love them. They’re all so different. It’s like your kids; they’re all so crazy and wonderful. And I tell them, “Save your money. Get a good lawyer. Quit complaining. Show up. Quit expecting too much.” It’s too much with these phones and everything. It happens overnight for these kids and it’s just too fast. Jesus had 12 followers. Come on, man.

Is that your advice to people who go on shows like American Idol, then, about handing sudden fame?

I was a mentor on The Voice, and I just told them what not to do, which is don’t get caught up in the internet. I try really hard not to, I swear to you. I do not have an Instagram that I check on my phone. No ma’am. No, I don’t need to read the comments and if I do, I cry. So why would I do that to myself? You don’t need those opinions. Don’t need their butthole opinion to justify what you’re doing.

That is true. Awesome advice.

I’m honest! I don’t know what else to tell you.

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