Remarks and music with lyrics about love, loss and heaven were a common thread throughout the public memorial held for Naomi Judd on Sunday at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
CMT aired the emotional event for the singer and songwriter who died by suicide in April at the age of 76.
His daughter, actress Ashley Judd, was greeted onstage at the start of the tribute with a standing ovation.
“Thank you for being in the community and fellowshipping with us,” young Judd said. “Because we can pretend to care, but we can’t pretend to show off. So thank you for coming for our mom.
She explained that her mother wanted the public memorial to stand at Ryman, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, which she called “the mother church.”
Judd also offered an obituary on his mother before introducing his older sister, Wynonna, who emotionally performed a song their mother wrote, “River of Time.”
“I hold back a flood of tears / I just think of those happy years,” Wynonna Judd sang. “Like all the good times that are no more. My love is gone, gone, gone forever.
The event was hosted by Judd family friend and “Good Morning America” co-host Robin Roberts.
“She loved with all her heart and I know she would be so touched by the outpouring of love in all of our hearts tonight, especially the love for her daughters,” Roberts said of Judd.
Wynonna and Naomi Judd formed the Grammy-winning duo The Judds, and many of their hits have been performed by current artists including Little Big Town, Jamey Johnson, EmmyLou Harris with Allison Russell and Brad Paisley.
Members of the Gaither Vocal Band also performed a gospel song in tribute to Judd’s love of spiritual music.
Rock star Bono appeared in a video where he recited the lyrics to Judd’s song, “Guardian Angel.” Other stars also made remarks via video, including Oprah Winfrey, Salma Hayek, Reese Witherspoon, Morgan Freeman and Bette Midler.
Judd’s husband, Larry Strickland, spoke to those gathered, explaining that his wife had never met a stranger and enjoyed talking to everyone she met.
He read an email he received from a man who met his wife on a flight and shared how Judd expressed his love for her husband and their life together.
“Needless to say, it brought me great pleasure and comfort,” Strickland said fondly.
Wynonna Judd made audiences laugh by poking fun at her sometimes tumultuous relationship with her mother.
“We’re showing the world what a dysfunctional family does,” she said, looking at her sister and Strickland. “You show up for each other.”
She returned to the stage to perform “The Rose” with Brandi Carlile.
Judd announced that to honor her mother, she planned to continue the tour they were supposed to do together. She then closed the show with a catchy rendition of “Love Can Build a Bridge.”