The top 10 Wynonna Judd songs look into the career of one of America’s most recognized country singers in the music industry. Many country music fans may also recognize her as the second half behind the mother-daughter combo, The Judds. From 1983 until 1991, the two made a tremendous impact on the country music scene with one hit after another.
Wynonna was originally born Christina Claire Ciminella in Ashland, Kentucky, on May 30, 1964. Her biological father was Charles Jordan but he opted out of the life of her mother, Diana, as well as their daughter’s. Before she became Naomi Judd, Diana married Michael Ciminella and with him had a second daughter, Ashley. Together, the family moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1968 before they were divorced in 1972. The daughters were taken back to Kentucky with their mother before moving again in 1979 to Nashville, Tennessee. It was hoped as a mother-daughter duo, Diana and Christina would be able to get their foot in the door as country music musicians. It would be at this time Diana would legally change her name to Naomi. At the same time, Christina chose the stage name Wynonna after she was inspired by a song that mentioned a town in Arizona called Winona. The song was “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” an R&B classic performed by Nat King Cole in 1946.
From 1983 until 1991, Naomi and Wynonna Judd made their mark in the country music industry as The Judds. Together, they were regarded by fans as a mother-daughter dynamo that scored hit after hit on the music charts and carved a legacy for themselves as among the most influential women in country music at the time. After the two disbanded in 1991, Wynonna continued her recording career as a solo artist. For Wynonna, the decision to go solo wasn’t an easy one.
Her mother, Naomi, was diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C which forced her into retirement after she and Wynonna completed their 1991 farewell tour. It wouldn’t be until 1999 she and her mother reunited for a New Year’s Eve concert. This led to a tour in 2000 that also included four new songs released by The Judds that would be featured on a bonus disc that was included with Wynonna’s album, New Year Dawning. The two reunited again in 2010 for a city tour. This included another two new songs the duo recorded while still with Curb Records. They, along with twelve classic hits by The Judds, were released in the compilation album, I Will Stand by You: The Essential Collection.
After Wynonna reunited with her mother in 1999, she released her fifth studio album, New Day Dawning. This was also the first album she’d co-produce that would include a bonus disc, Big Bang Boogie. It was on this recording the four new songs she sang with Naomi Judd would be featured. After this, it was 2003’s album, What the World Needs Now Is Love. In 2010, mother and daughter appeared on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show which brought up the subject of Wynonna’s weight loss, as well as the comeback she and Naomi had recently experienced.
The explosive start of Wynonna Judd’s solo career began in January 2022 after her self-titled debut album produced three big hits on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It would later become certified platinum five times by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). This was followed in 1993 by her second studio album, Tell Me Why. It also became certified platinum with the RIAA, thanks to a string of top ten hits that made their mark on the country music charts, as well as contemporary music charts, and pop charts. Going into 1994, there were no signs of Wynonna slowing down as she covered the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic “Free Bird” on the tribute album, Skynyrd Frynds. She also teamed up with Christian contemporary artist, Michael English, for his debut single, “Healing.”
1996 was a big year for Wynonna Judd as she married the father of her two children, Arch Kelly III. She also released her third studio album, Revelations. This also became certified platinum by the RIAA. After this, it was 1997’s The Other Side, the fourth and final album she would produce while still signed with MCA Records. The style of music chosen for this recording favored a bluesy rock sound instead of sticking to the country pop style she used since going solo. This musical experiment was successful enough to become certified gold by the RIAA but it didn’t quite make the same level of impression as her first three recordings. Before signing up with Mercury Records, the final album Wynonna released while still with MCA was her first compilation recording, Collection.
Released in 2005 was Her Story: Scenes from a Lifetime, a CD/DVD package that came out at the same time as Wynonna Judd’s autobiography, Coming Home to Myself. These allowed fans to peer further into the personal and professional chapters of Wynonna’s life before and after she and Ashley became household names in the entertainment industry. Where Wynonna shined as a country music star, half-sister Ashley did the same as an actress. Four years later, she released Sing: Chapter 1 which mainly covered a collection of songs originally recorded by other artists, including “I Hear You Knocking” by Smiley Lewis.
Aside from a stellar singing-songwriting career, Wynonna Judd also became a novelist. The first of her books was Restless Heart, a 2011 release that came out the same year as she debuted with a new band, Wynonna & the Big Noise. This led to the 2013 release of “Something You Can’t Live Without.” This was a recording that she produced with her third husband, Scott “Cactus” Moser, as the two shared what they classified as a life-changing moment they experienced in 2012. In 2016, Wynonna & the Big Noise witnessed the release of her ninth studio album.
On April 30, 2022, the world was rocked by the news of Naomi Judd’s self-inflicted gunshot wound that was ruled as a suicide. It was revealed the years of depression and mental illness had taken their toll on the woman that gave her cause to end her own life. This came about less than three weeks after she performed with her daughter at the 2022 CMT Music Awards. It also fell the day before The Judds would be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. At the induction ceremony, Wynonna and half-sister Ashley paid an emotional tribute to their mother. It was also announced Wynonna would carry on with the tour she and Naomi were supposed to do together for the summer of 2022. She was supported by several female country artists as they chose to honor Naomi Judd’s memory throughout the tour. This was chronicled in Wynonna Judd: Between Heaven and Hell, as a documentary that was released in April 2023.
Top 10 Wynonna Judd Songs
#10 – Rock Bottom
Released as a single in 1994, “Rock Bottom” came from Wynonna Judd’s second studio album, Tell Me Why. This was a beautiful mix of jazz and rock, as she sang about climbing herself back up after reaching “Rock Bottom.” This song, as well as the rest of the material in the album, seemed to suggest it was her way of sharing having to carry on as a solo artist after her mother, Naomi, was diagnosed with a medical condition that put her into retirement in 1991. Regardless of the reason, “Rock Bottom” shined was a song of determination and hope that became a favorite, thanks to the upbeat performance by Wynonna.
#9 – Is It Over Yet
When it comes to performing a powerful ballad, Wynonna Judd is in her element. “Is It Over Yet” was an emotional song that dealt with a woman having to contend with heartache as her love interest was about to move on without her. While he was ready to leave, she wasn’t ready to let go. This song peaked as high as number six on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart when it was released as a single in 1993. On the Canadian Country Tracks chart, it peaked as high as number eight. This was one of the standout songs from Judd’s second studio album, Tell Me Why.
#8 – Only Love
“Only Love” was one of many Wynonna Judd songs that highlighted why she was the “it chick” when it came to powerful ballads. This was a song about love as she professed her feelings as someone of sound mind and body, even though her own life was on shaky ground. On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and on the Canadian Country Tracks chart, “Only Love” peaked as high as number three when it was released as a single in 1993. For many fans, “Only Love” served as a great first dance song for couples after exchanging wedding their wedding vows. It’s also a favorite song of choice as many of those couples celebrate their anniversaries, year after year.
#7 – Girls with Guitars
Written by Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Girls with Guitars” was one of five top ten hits that came from Wynonna’s second studio album, Tell Me Why. On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, it peaked as high as number ten. It was a number nine hit on the Canadian Country Tracks chart. Performing as background vocalists were her mother, Naomi Judd, as well as Lyle Lovett. Defiantly performing this song as someone wanting to become a rock star, Wynonna hammered home a performance that lyrically put her parents on notice that it was the career path she wanted instead of the ones they had in mind for her.
During the peak of Wynonna Judd’s career as a solo artist, this was her signature sound as a contemporary country artist that fused some pop influence into her music. “Girls with Guitars” became one of those anthemic-like songs for women who shared Judd’s desire to make a name for themselves in the highly competitive music industry.
#6 – A Bad Goodbye (featuring Clint Black)
In 1993, Wynonna Judd performed as a guest vocalist with Clint Black for the highly successful single, “A Bad Goodbye.” This was released from Black’s fourth studio album, No Time to Kill. On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number forty-three hit. “A Bad Goodbye” was also a number-one hit on the Canadian Country Tracks chart and it peaked as high as number two on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. What made this song stand out was Wynonna Judd’s emotional touch as Black’s guest vocalist as the two dealt with the complications of a relationship between two people that resulted in a bad breakup.
#5 – My Strongest Weakness
Released from the debut album, Wynonna, “My Strongest Weakness” became the country music star’s third hit single to become a hit on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1992. It peaked as high as number four there, as well as on the Canadian Country Tracks chart. This was a classic Wynonna Judd song that explored the harsh realities of heartache. In an attempt to pick up the pieces after a relationship with a love interest came to an end, the singer revealed in this beautiful ballad that getting over him may not be so easy. This remains a favorite song among Judd’s fans that can relate to “My Strongest Weakness” as a bittersweet memory of their own based on their own relationship experiences.
#5 – Tell Me Why
Originally, “Tell Me Why” was a song written and recorded by Karla Bonoff for her 1988 album, New World. Wynonna Judd covered this in 1993 as the title track to her second studio album, Tell Me Why. On the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, it peaked as high as number three. In Canada, it topped its Canadian Country Tracks chart. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, “Tell Me Why” became Wynonna’s highest-charted hit to date when it peaked at number twenty-four.
This was also the case in Germany as it became a number fifty-six hit, as well as on the US Billboard Hot 100 when it peaked as high as number seventy-seven. This heartbreak song had the singer pine over an old love interest as the realization sunk in she was still in love with him, despite the fact he already moved on without her. When Wynonna covered this single, Karla Bonoff collaborated with her as backing vocalist and guitarist.
#4 – To Be Loved by You
“To Be Loved by You” served as Wynonna Judd’s final number-one hit to peak on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart after it was released as a single in 1996. On the Canadian Country Tracks chart, it peaked as high as number three and it was a number twenty-five hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart. Written by the songwriting team of Gary Burr and Mike Reid, this was an original that first appeared on Judd’s third studio album, Revelations. “To Be Loved by You” had Wynonna Judd perform as a vulnerable woman who is in love with someone whom she believed was worth fighting for.
#3 – I Saw The Light
Released in 1992, “I Saw the Light” became Wynonna Judd’s second single to become a number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It also peaked on the Canadian Country Tracks chart, and it became a number seventy-six hit in Germany. It was a song that featured the singer’s discovery of her man cheating on her with another woman. In the song, she revealed this revelation about her love interest was enough to give her just cause to leave him. This quick-paced country pop song earned Wynonna a win for Top Country Song at the 1992 Billboard Music Awards.
#2 – No One Else on Earth
“No One Else on Earth” was Wynonna Judd’s third single released from her debut album. In 1992, it became her third number-one hit in a row on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and on the Canadian Country Tracks chart. It also became a number thirty-five hit on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart and a number eighty-three hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 1994, then again in 1997, “No One Else on Earth” experienced remixes that kept this song popular at an international level in more than one genre. The singing of Wynonna Judd was highlighted by the woman’s husky rugged voice as she wonderfully performed so many hits throughout the span of her entire recording career. This song had Judd open up her heart to a love interest that easily made it a country classic that stood out as one of the all-time favorites throughout the 1990s.
#1 – She Is His Only Need
At the American Music Awards in 1992, Wynonna performed “She Is His Only Need” as her debut single from her self-titled debut album. It became a number-one hit on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart as well as on the Canadian Country Tracks chart. On the US Billboard Adult Contemporary Songs chart, it peaked as high as number twenty-five. It demonstrated even after spending nearly a decade with her mother, Naomi Judd, as an elite recording artist that Wynonna was more than capable of experiencing success as a solo artist.
“She Is His Only Need” was the first of country pop hits that would become Wynonna Judd’s trademark on her first three studio albums. This ballad was written by Dave Loggins as a love story that brought a loner named Billy and a woman named Bonnie together as man and wife. Throughout the couple’s marriage, Billy spent lots of time aiming to please his wife with as many materialistic luxuries as possible. This meant putting in extended hours at work as he’d overhear the list of things Bonnie wanted. As far as he was concerned, she was his only need and that was good enough for him.
Top 10 Wynona Judd Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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