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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Wynonna Judd

Aired September 29, 2005 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, country superstar Wynonna Judd fighting for her very life against personal demons, issues with her superstar mom Naomi Judd, with the dad she never knee and battles with diet, drink, even with handling her own money. We'll cover it all. An intense emotional hour with a great artist, Wynonna Judd, we'll take your calls too next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It is always a pleasure to welcome Wynonna Judd to Larry King Live, the multi Grammy winning country music star, the author of her a new book "Coming Home to Myself." There you see its cover, and, a new CD and a companion DVD her story "Scenes from a Lifetime."

The last time that Winona was on this program was October of 2003, two years ago. A lot has gone on since then. But on that appearance, you said your life was the best it had ever been.

Your book opens a few weeks later with an anguished call to your manager quoting you as saying "I'm at an end. I don't think I can keep going anymore. I feel like I'm starting to lose it." Were you in denial that night on this show? Were you hiding? What was going on?

WYNONNA JUDD: My mom raised a champion and I was living up to expectations and I think personally the whole time I was needing some time off and it just kept getting put off. And, shortly after that I realized I needed a break.

KING: So, when you said it was the best it had ever been?

JUDD: Professionally, I think, you know, it's like the highs and lows. I was talking to Sean (ph) tonight about professionally in my life was at such a high and professionally that's what I do, you know. I work. I rock. I travel. I do. But the human being was struggling, yes, so the personal lows were happening with the professional highs.

KING: What happens when that happens?

JUDD: You call your manager and you say "I think I need a break. I need some help."

KING: And then how did that lead to a DUI just November 14, 2003? What was happening? Was that at night?

JUDD: A real low point, a real low point. I was getting married the week later and I was celebrating with a friend of mine and I got caught. I made a bad choice and I did 200 hours of community service and it humbled me greatly. And then the next week I got married.

KING: Wasn't that a little much going on?

JUDD: You think?

KING: You think?

JUDD: Well, we live pretty -- well we live in Technicolor, you know. It's -- the addiction is living largely the American dream. I mean I've been on the road since I was 18 parades, Super Bowls, and underneath all of that, you know, I'm on my way to the Super Bowl to sing and my dad is showing up to tell me he's not my biological father.

So, it's life, you know. It's -- it's not always easy but I got right back up after that and I marched down that aisle and I got married and I moved on with my life and that's what we do. That's what Judd women do.

KING: Why did you write the book?

JUDD: I ended up writing the book because of all my experiences during that two years. I haven't seen you in a while.

KING: Yes.

JUDD: And a lot has happened. I found myself in the midst of the crisis because you know when you work all your life your identity is about what you do and I thought who am I? You know I never met my biological father. There's a part of my life I don't know about.

So I went on a search I guess you would say and that book is about what happens when you finally wake up one day and go, I'm hungry for something more, you know.

KING: Who was Mr. Judd?

JUDD: Well, it was Charlie Jordan was his name and I was going to go meet him about a month before he died and I never got the chance so...

KING: And is he Ashley's father too?

JUDD: No.

KING: You have different fathers?

JUDD: Right.

KING: Where did the name Judd come from?

JUDD: Well, the Judd name is the maiden name.

KING: Of your mother?

JUDD: Yes, my grandmother Polly Judd, so my biological father I never met him, so there was a real part of me that wondered, OK, there's this other part of me that's -- that's unknown and that book is about finding yourself really, you know, because I always say I love what I do but I'm not so sure I really love who I am.

And so the book was the searching for meaning off stage. You know this. So many entertainers it's about what we sing and about what we do on stage. Who am I offstage? I'm more than Naomi Judd's daughter, more than Ashley Judd's sister, you know, and so I figured it out.

KING: By yourself?

JUDD: No. No, I wish I could say I did but I wound up at a place called On Site (ph) in Nashville in a cabin by myself for five days and we did my genealogy. They put up my whole life financially from 1995 (INAUDIBLE) what you've been doing. Here are the patterns. This is what you have a tendency to do. And I just, I talk about holding up the mirror and it was the hardest work I've ever done.

KING: How did your husband deal with all this?

JUDD: Well, he was there for a lot of it, the financial part, you know, because when you get married...

KING: Because you know him a long time, right?

JUDD: I've known Rich 14 years, yes, and we were getting ready to get married and all of a sudden he realized what he was walking into and was willing to walk through the fire with me and realized that I was going to change my life.

In order to do that you have to make big life changes. You have to be willing to say, OK, I'm going to cut up the credit cards. I'm going to get on a budget, you know, whether it's $1 million budget for the show, tour, or it's dog food or the children. We got in there with a pen and a pad and started at ground zero.

KING: Was that hard for you?

JUDD: It was very hard for me. It was very humbling.

KING: You're a spender?

JUDD: I am -- I'm a -- I'm a caretaker. I kept everyone on payroll. Most people on our payroll year round. I wanted family so bad that I -- I paid people to stick around, you know. You know how that goes.

KING: I do.

JUDD: You feel responsible for people. You feel like I'm so blessed. I'll pay for the party. I'd take 20 people out to eat. It was never enough to just go out to eat by myself you know.

KING: I don't deserve to have this. I might as well give it away. JUDD: Yes. I struggled a lot with that and I did a really good job and my manager sat me down with my business manager and said, "If you continue on this path, in several years you will be bankrupt." And so they said why not start now so this doesn't happen and you're not another statistic?

KING: How much could you spend? I mean could you really go on sprees?

JUDD: Well, it wasn't even about that. It was I had no relationship with my money. I had people that did that for me. I'm busy singing. I'm busy traveling. I know most people don't really get in touch with their money. They don't -- they don't feel the green anymore. They pay for it with a credit card and then they realize they're, you know, living way above their means.

KING: Business people get their credit cards, so you never see anything.

JUDD: Absolutely, absolutely. So, and my philosophy was well if I need more money I'll go do another show. I didn't know how to save. I didn't -- I lived in the moment and the moment is now. We live in America, super size me. So, let's...

KING: Did you get involved in negotiations for what you were paid?

JUDD: No, never.

KING: Oh, you left that all up to...

JUDD: Never. Never and so now I am. I actually sign my own checks and it's empowering because now I have a relationship with my money. And what you don't know you're not responsible for but now that I know I'm responsible.

KING: What was the addiction? Were you an alcoholic?

JUDD: No.

KING: No, drugs?

JUDD: My addiction -- no, no, but food is a drug so...

KING: You overeat?

JUDD: I think, yes, I -- I eat emotionally and I do things I don't think I'm aware of. I think we all distract ourselves with things, whether it's the Internet, we get a phone call that's upsetting, we take a drink or we go get on the phone or we distract ourselves and that's what I've been doing.

And I've been in a lot of hotel rooms by myself after performing for thousands of people living that life at the top, you know, in a hotel room and you can only watch so much TV and call so many people.

KING: Lonely?

JUDD: It can be but I've surrounded myself with different things now and I'm working on it. It's a -- it's a process.

KING: More with Wynonna Judd. We'll be taking your calls at the bottom of the hour. The book is "Coming Home to Myself," a great title. Don't go away.

(VIDEO CLIP OF WYNONNA JUDD CONCERT)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP OF WYNONNA JUDD CONCERT)

KING: The great Wynonna Judd. The book is "Coming Home to Myself." Wynonna Judd what a life. What's the relationship now with mom?

JUDD: It's getting better and better because we're working on a new way to communicate.

KING: What happened? You were close for a while then what's the story?

JUDD: News flash, we're mother and daughter, you know, the roller coaster ride. She is very different than I am yet we have this beautiful career and we missed out a lot on the personal life, you know. It was always about what we were going to wear on Johnny Carson or, you know, the number one parties.

And, I'm getting to know who she is in a -- in a sweet and tender way. It's almost like she's not as -- well, she's a nurse. She's a mom. Need I say more? She always wanted to fix something or tell me the answer and, as you know, we have to find our way.

We've entered into some great therapy where we sit and talk about, OK, this is what I need from you. You know I was 18. I'm not 18 anymore. And she's asked me to do certain things, to change certain things and we're working on it.

KING: What's your relationship with your sister?

JUDD: Awesome.

KING: That's great.

JUDD: Finally awesome, yes.

KING: Finally, it wasn't good?

JUDD: Well we -- we didn't have a lot of -- I mean it's in the book. We didn't -- we didn't have a lot of time together. We missed out on so much because mom and I were on the road and I adore my mom, you know. I did her hair on the road, you know. I dressed her when she was sick before we went out on stage. We'd hold hands and I adore her. But I'm learning to be more of an equal with my mom. But with Ashley, I think we're finding our place where we really -- we really know each other, you know. We hold hands and walk, take walks together and talk about the heart.

So much of family is spent being defensive, being reactive, as you know. You know three's this -- this tug of war thing happening and nobody listens and you think you know somebody but years later I realize I don't know that I really knew her that well, you know. You can't really know somebody when you're at a premier walking the red carpet. And, I'm starting to really know who she is, so Ashley is my darling.

KING: Were you surprised she turned to acting?

JUDD: Not at all.

KING: She's a singer too isn't she?

JUDD: She had to do something. She is a good singer. She turned to acting. It makes sense because mom and I were always, you know, practicing and she'd go in her room and she got involved with books.

KING: She never sang with you? She sang with you didn't she?

JUDD: You know for hobby, well for fun, you know, holidays.

KING: But she was never the Judds?

JUDD: No. No. There was only room for the two of us at the time and she was the odd man out.

KING: Were you a latch key kid?

JUDD: Yes.

KING: Meaning?

JUDD: Key around the neck. Thank God for Hostess Twinkies and "The Brady Bunch."

KING: You were in the house?

JUDD: Absolutely by myself with a note and a snack and I think a lot of kids, you know, go through that. She worked -- mom worked sometimes two and three jobs, you know, to make ends meet. We were on welfare and so she was gone a lot and I kind of feel like I raised Ashley. I mean mom gave birth to her but she kind of belongs to me.

KING: How much older are you than she?

JUDD: Four years, so Ashley and I were the best of friends until I turned 18 and then I was off to the big time.

KING: Have a lot of sister clashes? JUDD: Not as much anymore.

KING: Did though?

JUDD: We did because I think Ashley really wanted, I can imagine for her that it was really tough being, you know, Wynonna Judd's sister and she really wanted to have her own identity.

KING: Which is why maybe she went the acting route.

JUDD: Absolutely. She hooked up that U-Haul. I remember the day.

KING: What did she do?

JUDD: And she drove out to L.A. by herself from the farm absolutely and I remember going wow, and she made it, and she absolutely did it herself. And when I walked down the red carpet, I walked behind her. I'm like this is your life baby.

KING: She's a hell of a talent. She was unbelievable as Cole Porter's wife.

JUDD: I know. I look at her and I just can't believe she's my sister. I'm like, you know, if I had known you were going to be this famous, I would have been really, really nice to you.

KING: There's a story you write about in the book. You had an encounter with a flasher?

JUDD: Oh, yes, that's Hollywood.

KING: What happened?

JUDD: I was -- I was walking home and a guy pulled up next to me and that's the first time I ever saw a penis. I just said it on national television.

KING: How old? You can say it. It's a word.

JUDD: I was eight. I think I was about -- well, no. I was a little older than that.

KING: Did you report it?

JUDD: Yes, absolutely. I went -- I ran to the neighbors. So, I just, you know, things you don't forget.

KING: I guess you don't forget that.

JUDD: No, you don't.

KING: How's the marriage going?

JUDD: It's awesome. It's so awesome I kind of think people aren't going to believe me if I say because, you know, it's so hard these days. I mean there is so much going on in the world and so much tragedy and but that's really one of the best things in my life is -- is this marriage. I can't believe that I had that second chance. It's pretty, I mean you know how it is, you...

KING: You've known him such a long time.

JUDD: Fourteen years.

KING: What took you so long to get married?

JUDD: I didn't see Roach in that way.

KING: You were friends first?

JUDD: Absolutely. He was a worker in a suit and I was doing my thing and we were working together but one day.

KING: When friendship turns to love can it be also very passionate?

JUDD: Absolutely.

KING: Because you've had so much as just friends.

JUDD: Yes.

KING: So he's seen you go on dates, right?

JUDD: Absolutely. He walked me to the church the day I got married the first time, pretty weird.

KING: But when it turns then it turns great.

JUDD: Yes, it does. We have a lot that we do together. A lot of couples I think struggle to find something that they have in common and Roach and I love what we do together so it's pretty awesome and...

KING: And he goes on tour with you?

JUDD: Absolutely and some -- you know, he gets his own room. He has his own bathroom and it's great. We're smart.

KING: The answer to a successful marriage, separate bathrooms.

JUDD: That's right.

KING: We'll be right back with Wynonna Judd. The book is out. The CD is out. The accompanying DVD is out. And we'll go to your calls at the bottom of the hour.

And tomorrow night what a (INAUDIBLE), Walter Cronkite and Dolly Parton, hey life's good. We'll be right back.

(VIDEO CLIP OF WYNONNA JUDD)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (VIDEO CLIP OF WYNONNA JUDD)

KING: From the book it seems, Wynonna, did your mother take advantage of it? I mean were you the star and she was the, I mean was it her deal?

JUDD: Wow.

KING: Did she book the act?

JUDD: No.

KING: Did she...

JUDD: No, we had an agent and we had a record label. Mom knew that I was the voice and it was -- I think we both felt pressure, you know, because I wasn't a business person and I didn't have the knowledge she did. She was 36. I was 18 and I was the lead voice but I relied on her so much. It was pretty 50/50 in terms of...

KING: She picked the music?

JUDD: No, we both did. That was the one place in my life when I'd go in the studio I really knew who I was, you know, whether it was a relationship or something else I felt like, of course, I had very little experience but boy when it came to strapping on the guitar and singing the notes, I knew who I was.

KING: What was it like to go from welfare to millionaire?

JUDD: I don't know that it's a really good idea to win the lottery because it changes everything, people around you. Thank God I had my mom on the bus. It was God's way of saying settle down.

KING: Get used to the bus?

JUDD: Love the bus, still love the bus.

KING: Love the bus.

JUDD: Love the bus.

KING: Why?

JUDD: The roar of the engine, waking up. I love sitting up in front and driving down the road. There's just something about the gypsy spirit in me that loves to wake up in a different town every day. I love to -- my favorite thing is to pull into the truck stops and sometimes I get off and go in and people just they can't believe it's me at 3:00 in the morning.

I feel like I'm on a mission. It's kind of fun. It's like nobody knows where I'm at. It's mysterious. It's freedom, you know. It's freedom and it's -- the road is my middle name.

KING: Where did you learn to play? JUDD: On a mountaintop in Kentucky.

KING: Taught yourself?

JUDD: Absolutely.

KING: Sat down with a guitar and just strummed it?

JUDD: Yes, no TV, no telephone. I was 12 years old and I was all alone with Ashley and mom up on that mountaintop and I think it just -- I saw it. I went, oh. I put it on and it was part of me from then on.

KING: Is it hard to be a mother and travel in the business you do? How do you do it?

JUDD: A lot of prayer and a lot of laughter. And, this morning I woke up and thought OK, how am I going to do this? You know this book tour the next three weeks is just, it's all about me and when you're home it's all about them. So, it's been kind of weird, you know, doing hair and makeup. Yes, going and doing these interviews all of a sudden I'm back out, you know, paving -- paving the way for the next generation of women.

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

JUDD: Absolutely.

KING: Do you sing along the way? Do you have any concerts booked?

JUDD: I'm on a symphony tour. I'm always doing something.

KING: A symphony tour?

JUDD: Absolutely, 75 pieces, I walk out there and...

KING: You sing with like the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra?

JUDD: Absolutely, the Chicago Pops.

KING: Country music?

JUDD: I do it -- I'm doing old music and my music. I'm mixing it up. When you buy the DVD it's all the music I love. It's Judd music. It's the solo music. It's the stuff I just adore. We've talked about how much we loved the '40s and the big band sound. That's part of me. So, I walk out there and sing "at last my love has come along."

KING: And that's strange for country singers right?

JUDD: Well it's about the voice though for me now. I'm 41 and I've earned the right to go out on the limb and by God I'm doing it and if you don't like it, well go ahead and call in and tell me because here I am. KING: I don't think anybody is going to -- what do you do about the eating?

JUDD: I fluctuate like the weather. I'm trying to figure it out. People say well just quit eating. I say well quit drinking, quit spending. I mean you quit smoking, you know.

KING: I sure did but I had an incident. I had a heart attack.

JUDD: Right.

KING: I wouldn't have stopped without a heart attack (INAUDIBLK).

JUDD: I think, you know, it's a process like I said. I'm just now really learning what I do with food. I think all along I've been saying, oh well, you know, I'll just work out more. I'm starting to really understand why I do what I do.

A lot of addictions, it's a strange road and I sometimes wake up and go, am I ever going to make it? And then I realize, yes, but I can sing, and I put that aside for a minute. I go and do the things I can do and I'm not -- I'm tired of beating myself up as I have in the past.

And I said on stage the other night I'm going to start celebrating what I am and stop worrying as much about what I'm not and that's what my tour is about these days. I walk out on stage and I say let's celebrate the things we are, you know, and I mean there's so much going on in the world that we can't control but I have a choice. I just wrote a song called "Attitude." You can choose to win or lose. It's all about attitude and that's it.

KING: Still love singing?

JUDD: Love it more than ever. It's like falling in love all over again with your partner. It's the same thing. It happens to you. I mean you love what you do and something will come around again and it will give you that surge you need. This book has allowed me to be free. There are no more secrets.

KING: Yes.

JUDD: I think it's given me permission to be imperfect. It's given me permission to be even inadequate because in my weakness he is strong. And when I step out on that stage and that voice comes out, I'm like whoa, this is pretty cool.

KING: Still have a belief?

JUDD: Now more than ever because I've -- I've almost died twice.

KING: Of?

JUDD: Giving birth to Grace and then around 2003 I was a walking time bomb. You'll see in chapter... KING: Walking time bomb with drugs you mean?

JUDD: No, with just my blood pressure and my numbers.

KING: Your health.

JUDD: My health was really -- I think my triglycerides got up to over 300.

KING: We're going to take a break, come back with Wynonna Judd. And, as we go to break she mentioned it, here's "Attitude."

(VIDEO CLIP OF WYNONNA JUDD)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: The book is "Coming Home To Myself". Wynonna Judd, a memoir. The CD and companion DVD is "Her Story: Scenes from a Lifetime". By the way, do you ever forget what city you're in?

WYNONNA JUDD, "COMING HOME TO MYSELF": No, I don't, actually.

KING: You don't?

JUDD: I don't. I forget what day it is.

KING: But you always know...

JUDD: I do. I do.

KING: ... it's Minneapolis?

JUDD: I do. Because when I get off the bus there's always somebody there to meet me usually in the you know lobby or somewhere.

KING: What was it like to go solo?

JUDD: A death and a rebirth all at the same time...

KING: Did you resist it?

JUDD: Yes. I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready. It was too soon. Because...

KING: Did your mom want you to do it?

JUDD: She wanted to push me out of the nest, but I think it was incredibly painful for her to let go. Because the December show, the last show, was December -- I went out back on the road in February or March.

KING: By yourself?

JUDD: Yes. It was too soon. I wasn't ready. It's like getting divorced and going out on a date the next day kind of thing...

KING: What was it like your first night solo?

JUDD: I didn't move from the microphone. Somebody told me there was like a three feet space. I didn't move outside of it. I was just -- it's like standing naked in front of the church. I was terrified. But I knew the music, so the music got me through, and the fans...

KING: Did you have an act?

JUDD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: You had an act?

JUDD: ... had an act...

KING: Well you need an act, right...

JUDD: I had hair.

KING: ... you got to talk to the people...

JUDD: I had lips, so I had a voice. I had...

KING: But I mean did you carefully choose what song would follow another?

JUDD: Well, I only had you know like 10...

KING: These are my 10...

JUDD: Yes, these are my 10, so this is it.

KING: Your mom and you had a rift, though, after an appearance you did on Oprah?

JUDD: Well, the second show was really hard. Ashley, mom, and I showed up, and it was an interesting dynamic. Let's just put it that way. Because I wanted mom to be there as my mom. Oh, you're not famous today, by the way, Naomi Judd, you're my mom. And I think for mom she wanted to be really heard. And Ashley just wanted -- she sat there and watched the two of us like you know a tennis match just like this and her agenda was to stay out of the middle.

So it was pretty painful at times. But you know what? We did it. You know what I mean? We did it. And a lot of times we don't agree with everything we do, but we support who we are. And that's the thing. People keep talking about these rifts and all the tragedies and stuff. Yes, it's been incredibly hard, but we keep showing up.

KING: Was it painful to write?

JUDD: Absolutely. Absolutely. A lot of that stuff I wasn't sure I wanted to put in there. But isn't that part of -- it's who we are, right? I mean, I can't just say, oh, you know, I'm swimming in the lake of me and everything is beautiful because a lot of days I wake up and go is there a place for you? You're 41 years old or on a good day 30-11. And am I going to be here, you know in 10 years?

Am I OK? Is everything all right, God? You know do I have a gig? And then I go out on stage and I realize yes, my fans have been coming to see me 20 years. They're now bringing their kids. If you look on that DVD tape, they've got their kids with them.

KING: Yes.

JUDD: Pretty awesome.

KING: Who picked the title "Coming Home To Myself"?

JUDD: I did. I said it, and Oprah said that's the name of your book. I went what? Because I say things sometimes that I don't even know I say. And it is coming home to myself. I think there's a point in time when you have to say to thine own self be true. Right?

KING: Oh sure.

JUDD: You do and I'm not going to be defined. People have been trying to tell me who I am for 41 years. You know and you're diagnosed you're told you're number one, you're nothing, you're platinum, you're plywood, you're -- and you know, but this is who I am. And you know what, it's told through my eyes. Everybody has written about me, they've said things about me...

KING: They're your eyes.

JUDD: But they are mine.

KING: My eyes. Another song.

JUDD: Oh yes.

KING: Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: First off, Wynonna, I want to say you look awesome.

JUDD: Thanks, babe.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: My question is have you ever thought about acting with your sister in a movie? I think the two of you would be so good together.

KING: You ever think of it?

JUDD: I think about it. And it's up to Ashley to invite me. It's her thing. Does that make sense? It's a respect thing. I would love to touch the hem of her garment, as they say. I would love... KING: You think you can act?

JUDD: I'm doing it right now.

(LAUGHTER)

JUDD: Come on.

KING: That's right.

JUDD: Of course I can.

KING: Brando said it's easy...

JUDD: Of course I can and I have.

KING: Just pretend.

JUDD: Right...

KING: Right?

JUDD: You live -- Ashley told me live truthfully in imaginary circumstances, which that's the music business...

(CROSSTALK)

JUDD: ... yes...

KING: Right?

JUDD: Absolutely. I look forward to the day.

(CROSSTALK)

JUDD: I'll claim it right now. Let's call her.

KING: East -- I think it's East Moriches, New York. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Wynonna, I just want to say I think you're great. I think you're wonderful. Not that I think that you need this, but have you ever thought about gastric bypass for the whole weight issue and just to have it done and over with?

KING: A lot of people are doing it.

JUDD: You've got to read the book. There's a whole -- I won't go into it but there's a whole chapter almost about that and my choice and the reason for it. We don't have enough time, Larry.

KING: Why you chose not to do it?

JUDD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: Of course it would seem...

JUDD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: ... to be paving way to an answer.

JUDD: I'm going to plead the Fifth on that one right now. But it's in the book. And I don't -- because I really don't want anyone to ever think that I'm judging or saying you shouldn't do something. But...

KING: What was it like to stand in court and be judged?

JUDD: The most -- one of the most humiliating things I've ever been through. And I feel like it made me a better person. I feel like it made me accountable. And I learned more in that 200 hours about the unloved than I ever have in my entire career.

KING: What kind of service did you do?

JUDD: Meals on wheels. I wound up in homes for, you know, assisted living.

KING: In Nashville?

JUDD: Yes, reading to kindergartners.

KING: Were you DUI in Nashville?

JUDD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: And that's where they sentenced you?

JUDD: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. One of the lowest points. And I also know that -- I mean, I believe in a God that forgives. I know that it's hard for people to. And I know that it took a long time for people to forgive me. But I held my head up high, not arrogantly, but confidently, because I know who I belong to and I know that I turned it into good. And I just worked harder.

And that's sort of the Judd way. There's a thing about Judd women land on their feet. I took it very seriously and I have children. And I think my children, they forgave me. And even offered to help me. You know, it's like one of those things where you go, whoa. And I felt deeply about it. And I've tried to do everything I can to pay my...

KING: But you've never had a drinking problem, right?

JUDD: No, it -- what happened was that night I picked a really bad -- I made a bad choice. I had taken a girl out for dinner, and we had had wine. And like so many meals I wasn't paying attention. We were celebrating her and talking and laughing and caring -- and like with food, like with a lot of things, you know, I live big. And I overdid it. And I'll never do it again. I will never do it again.

KING: We will be back with more and more of your phone calls for Wynonna. Don't go away.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: How important are the backup singers?

JUDD: It's part of Wynonna music. And boy, are they incredible.

KING: They have to be good, right?

JUDD: Awesome. They've been with me a long time.

KING: Can they throw you off if they're not?

JUDD: They don't throw me off. They kick my butt. They really do.

KING: Have you ever been with any that didn't work?

JUDD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They've been with me since the beginning.

KING: Dumfries, Virginia, hello.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Hi. What has occurred in your life that you have learned most from? And the way that I saw your husband look at you on the Oprah Winfrey show, you are a dream catcher that has truly been blessed.

JUDD: Wow. I forgot the first part of the question.

KING: What was the first part of the question, dear?

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I'm sorry. What has occurred in your life that you have learned the most from?

KING: Oh.

JUDD: Birth. That it's not really about me. You know, I spent so much of my life getting the memo about me, and when I gave birth I realized there's so much more. You know, you know it's not about me.

KING: There's somebody else here.

JUDD: It's not about me. And it's so humbling, as you know. One minute I can be on top of a mountain and the next minute the very lowest valley. So I probably have learned more from birth than anything.

KING: You like being a step mom? Your husband has a son.

JUDD: My bonus son.

KING: You call him a bonus?

JUDD: Yes, because it is a bonus. I don't like the word "step" because it feels a little bit removed. It's very difficult to pick up where someone else leaves off. And I think of myself as an overachiever. And sometimes I have to remind myself, breathe. You know, take a time out. It's OK to not be perfect and to not be the very best mom you can be. And it's OK to make mistakes. So it's been a challenge.

KING: Keswick, Ontario, hello.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Hi. How are you?

KING: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Good. Listen, I was just wondering, I know, Wynonna, like you know, you've had great music with your mom and on your own you've been terrific with that and you've been an inspiration with what you went through. And I was just wondering, is there a chance you and your mother could have a reunion tour? And if you do, I hope you come to Canada because we love you up here.

JUDD: That door is always open. Mom and I did a reunion tour in 2000. Where were you? And I can see us doing some kind of a gospel record someday together. You know, taking it back to the mountains of Appalachia. But I think there's always hope. And if you'll notice, throughout my records she's on there from time to time. So it's still really incredibly painful, though, when the two of us get together.

KING: Still?

JUDD: Yes, it's like taking down that box off the shelf and opening it up and looking through the old pictures and reminiscing. You know, those were the good old days, like the song "Grandpa". Those really were the good old days. I just didn't know it then, so...

KING: Does your CD have a theme?

JUDD: Yes. It's from the very beginning. I walk out on stage alone, and I sit down on the stool, and I sing my very first song I can remember and then I end as loud and proud as I can. It's a two- hour show that's based on -- and believe it or not, it's not perfection. I mean we did it from beginning to end, no technical fixes, no hair and makeup...

(CROSSTALK)

JUDD: ... person standing in the wings. No stopping and starting. It's live, baby, you know.

KING: What was the first song you remember?

JUDD: One of the songs I remember learning was a song called "Dream Chaser". "Dream Chaser, that's what I am". That's the very first song.

KING: How does it go?

JUDD: Dream chaser, stargazer, that's what I am and I've always known I'd come back home when I found my journey's end. It talks about a girl going out and finding her dream, so...

KING: We'll be right back with more of Wynonna. Don't go away.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: That's a great song. Buckhannon, West Virginia. Hello.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Hello there.

KING: Hi.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Hi. I was -- want to tell her how much we admire her in West Virginia. And I would like to know how she takes her work and takes care of it and also has plenty of time for her children.

KING: How do you balance it?

JUDD: Well, we home school. Thank you for asking that.

KING: Oh you do?

JUDD: Because I love talking about my children. Who doesn't? We take them with us as much as we can. And honestly I've cut back some because there's just something really sacred about you know wiping butts. I mean, come on. Let's get real here. You know? They sustain me. So what do I do? I try to do the best I can you know with what I've got.

KING: All you can do is all you can do.

JUDD: Yes. I used to feel -- you know, there's this curse on mothers, you know, that we go to bed at night and think about the 10 things we didn't do rather than celebrate the five we did. So I try to give myself a break and go, you know what, they know who they are, they've got a great family. As crazy as we are, you know we're a family, so you know how it is. You do the best you can with what you have.

KING: Chicago, hello.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

JUDD: Hello.

KING: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Are we there?

KING: Yes.

JUDD: Yes.

KING: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: I just want to say that I'm an old R&B jazz girl from Chicago.

JUDD: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: And you are one of the people that made me get interested in country to begin with.

JUDD: Well, I'm coming to Chicago...

(CROSSTALK)

JUDD: I'm coming to Chicago to sing with the Symphony. You'd better come see me.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: Oh, I definitely will. But I mean my beginning was Loretta and Kenny Rogers and Dolly. But you and your mom made me get into it. And then when your mom left and then it was just you, but with your voice quality I think someday, girl, you've got to do some Billie Holiday because...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: ... now that you're in your 40's and you're going to go out and do it I think that kind of jazz you would just be phenomenal.

KING: You ever thought about that?

JUDD: Thank you, sister friend.

KING: Have you heard Billie Holiday?

JUDD: Oh, are you kidding me?

KING: Well...

JUDD: I live and breathe that kind of music because of the passion. It's hard to find melody anymore -- there's just something about that Etta James, you know "At Last!" , which I sing with the Symphony. And I just feel like at 41, like I say, I've sort of earned the right to sing that stuff. So I am.

(CROSSTALK)

JUDD: I am. KING: You're going to sing with the Chicago Symphony.

JUDD: Absolutely.

KING: What's it like to sing with the Symphony?

JUDD: It's terrifying. It's like all of a sudden you're by yourself. You're standing in front of the conductor. And you're kind of working for him, you know...

KING: You follow his...

JUDD: Exactly. And the other night I messed up. I said, excuse me, sir, excuse me. Can we start over? And he looked at me like, well.

KING: They really are rough...

JUDD: Yes, they are rough and so it's a great education. I believe strongly in jumping outside your box. And it's really scary to start things new.

(CROSSTALK)

JUDD: You know that.

KING: They're a lot different from Nashville musicians, though.

JUDD: Totally different. I don't have my guitar player. I don't have my musicians. These people I have never met. And just you know all of a sudden we're working together and -- but I believe strongly in trying new things. And now that I've traveled for 20 years I'm not as afraid anymore as I used to be.

KING: Who -- is your own piano player with you?

JUDD: Just my drummer and my singers.

KING: They're with you?

JUDD: Because we've got to get a little kick every now and then.

KING: When we come back, our remaining moments with Wynonna. Maybe we'll sing -- maybe we'll do something together. And I'll ask her about singing for the troops. She does a lot of that. Don't go away.

(MUSIC)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

KING: It's incredible what you do with it. What's it like to sing for troops?

JUDD: Pretty amazing, actually. It's changed my life. I go up to Walter Reed in Bethesda, in Washington...

KING: Sing for the injured?

JUDD: I go and visit them and meet the parents and it's pretty heavy. I have to say I have a whole new appreciation. I feel like everyone should go and do that, and then...

KING: Do you go overseas too?

JUDD: I've done USO with mom in the past, so...

KING: You told me you sang for soldiers when they're leaving.

JUDD: Yes. I go up and say, hey, thanks for putting your butt on the line so that my kids can sleep at night. You know, and freedom's not free. And I take it very seriously. The music I sing is the backdrop of everyday life. And these people are making a sacrifice, so...

KING: How do you react to the tragedy of Katrina?

JUDD: I'm involved in a project right now that hopefully we can build millions of homes with Habitat for Humanity.

KING: So you're involved with that?

JUDD: Yes. Michael McDonald and Eric Benet and I recorded a song called "Heart of America", and we are doing everything we can. How do I feel? I feel like I'm the luckiest person alive. I really do. I wake up every day, and I say good morning, God. I just -- I feel like everything I've been through, bad or good, it's like -- it's made me a better person, not a bitter person. As much as I've been through -- I mean you read that book and you're like, wow, you know she's had a lot happen to her...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You didn't have a house float down the river.

JUDD: No...

(CROSSTALK)

JUDD: ... and I have stuff that I don't...

(CROSSTALK)

JUDD: ... I sometimes think I don't even deserve, but I have it. And so when we gather around and we talk about our kids and I -- the kids and I, we sit around and say what are we grateful for? And if you'll just say five things, you'll feel better. You know it's like we have so much to be thankful for. And I'm just -- I'm ready to sing. I'm ready to be on the road. I'm ready to do everything I can to make a difference and light a fire under people.

KING: Do you write your own songs?

JUDD: Absolutely. My new single. "Attitude", you've got one.

KING: Yes, we all have...

JUDD: You've been doing it 20 years.

KING: Yes, this show, 20...

JUDD: And that's -- you know what, that's what makes it. Attitude. Once you get there -- the hardest part for me is getting there and on time. And the second hardest part is attitude, man. It's yes, I have a gift. But the hardest part for me is staying positive, you know. And the fans help sustain me. So I'm here until, you know, he tells me to get a real job.

KING: Someday we'll do a duet together. I can't sing.

JUDD: Bring it on. What would we sing? What do you think? You want to go out with a little something?

KING: "Walk the Line" -- you want to do "Walk the Line"?

JUDD: Yes, am I singing harmony?

KING: OK. I don't know what that means.

JUDD: Go.

KING: I keep my eyes wide open all the time.

KING & JUDD: I keep a close watch on this heart of mine. I keep my ties (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for the ties that bind because you're mine I walk the line.

KING: You were doing harmony there, right? Explain that.

JUDD: Yes.

KING: You were singing -- you weren't singing the notes, right?

JUDD: That was good, Larry.

KING. That was good...

JUDD: Keep your day job.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Our guest has been...

JUDD: Yes.

KING: ... Wynonna Judd. The book...

JUDD: Oh that... KING: ... is "Coming Home To Myself", a memoir written, by the way, with Patsi Bale Cox and her new CD and the companion DVD is "Her Story: Scenes from a Lifetime".

JUDD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: What a talent. What a lady. Wynonna. I love her. They're going to have a party for us celebrating our 20th anniversary on the air next week in L.A. and Wynonna's coming.

JUDD: That's right.

KING: And that's going to make the night.

JUDD: Oh.

KING: Brother.

JUDD: I love a party...

KING: Aaron...

JUDD: I love a party...

KING: Aaron Brown and Anderson Cooper are standing by to take us in to the next two hours of amazing coverage as they do every night. In fact, Aaron is just back from -- you flew to Minneapolis today, right?

AARON BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: I did. Yes, it's been a fun day, Larry, and if you hadn't been singing, I don't think I would have made it at all today.

(LAUGHTER)

BROWN: Thank you. You'll be showing up on "American Idol".

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