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Kentucky sisters in song: Carly Pearce and Wynonna Judd

When Pearce was awarded the CMA (Country Music Association) Female Vocalist of the Year in 2021, she received what she describes as “a random phone call.” The voice on the other end said, “Hi Carly, this is Wynonna Judd. I wanted to call you and welcome you to the family of women in country.”

Pearce paused as she recounted the moment, overcome with emotion even two years later. “I will never forget that. Wynonna was my first concert. She was my first CD that I bought. I’ve tried to re-create so many Judds songs it’s not even funny.”

Their camaraderie began to build a long-distance friendship. When The Judds’ induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame was announced, Wynonna and Naomi asked Pearce to sing Why Not Me at the ceremony. But in the wake of Naomi’s death the day before, Wynonna requested something more elegiac as a tribute to her mother: Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days).

“I remember, in that moment, almost feeling like this had nothing to do with artist-to-artist. This was like friend-to-friend, and after that experience, she and I became really close,” Pearce says. When Wynonna decided to fulfill the dates on The Judds’ farewell tour, Pearce volunteered to help out when she could. 

“They say don’t meet your heroes, but I’ve had pretty good luck (with) doing that, and just to get to know her on a personal level has been so special … I think it’s because she sees a lot of herself in me.”

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