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Interview With Carrie Prejean; Interview With Billy Ray Cyrus

Aired June 12, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, controversial beauty queen Carrie Prejean -- the former Miss California USA says it's the gay comment that got her fired.


CARRIE PREJEAN, FORMER MISS CALIFORNIA: This has been a whirlwind for me.


KING: She claims her critics had a hidden agenda.

Was somebody out to get her?

And then, Hannah Montana's dad -- Billy Ray Cyrus is here, the country music superstar and father of the world's most famous teen. He'll tell us all about life with Miley and raising a daughter in the public eye. He's going to sing, too.

Plus, Wynonna...


KING: ...on her 25 years in show business and the rocky road she's traveled.


Good evening.

Miss California USA was stripped of her title on Wednesday. Pageant officials maintained it was a business decision based solely on contract violations.

Well, Carrie Prejean, the former beauty queen, joins us with her side of the story.

You've had a couple of days now, Carrie, to think it all over and it's sunk in.

What are your feelings today?

CARRIE PREJEAN, FORMER MISS CALIFORNIA USA: Well, Larry it's so good to talk with you.

Thank you so much for having me on the show. KING: Same here.

Good having you.

PREJEAN: I'm definitely a little bit surprised just by the way that I found out about this. You know, I was called by the media to inform me that I was fired.

KING: Wait a minute.

Are you saying the pageant didn't call you?

PREJEAN: No. I haven't received any phone calls. In fact, my lawyer found out from the media, as well, before we received any contact. I still have not, to this day, received any contact from Mr. Lewis.

KING: Now, since they were so supportive of you at the time and after the Trump announcement, what do you make of the fact that they didn't call you?

PREJEAN: Well, I think Mr. Trump was definitely in the middle. And I think that, you know, he has only heard one side.

And, ultimately, at the end of the day, you have to think about are you going to sue -- I'm sorry are you going to release Mr.

Keith Lewis or are you going to release Carrie Prejean?

And I think that they had to release the beauty queen at the end of the day.

KING: All right, Carrie, the executive director, Keith Lewis, was on this show hours after you got dethroned.

Here's some of what he said and then we'll ask you to comment.




KING: So she was supposed to do something and didn't show up or...

LEWIS: Well, not one thing; not two things; many, many, many things. And including the fact that she had come to us and really said I'm not interested in your input, I'm going to make my own decision on what I'm going to do. And, you know, Larry, that when you have a contract, when you're working for someone, you have a responsibility to follow through on what that requirement is.

KING: Did you give her a warning?

LEWIS: We gave her many warnings. And I think that the ultimate warning came when we had the press conference with Mr. Trump and Mr. Trump said hey, we're going to move forward and try to make this better. And I think from that point on, it was a matter of just trying to put it back on track and not being able to do it.


KING: How do you respond to that, Car?

PREJEAN: Well, Larry, all I can tell you was this basically comes down to the answer that I gave the night of the pageant. As you can see, Mr. Lewis does not agree with the stance that I took. I think he's very angry. I think he's hurt. He said in a previous statement that he's deeply saddened and hurt that this -- that Carrie Prejean believes in -- that a marriage is between a man and a woman -- politics and religion have no play in the Miss California family.

My question is, then why was the question asked at the pageant in the first place?

If politics has no role in the pageant, why was I given this question?

It was a hidden personal agenda that judge number eight asked. And I think that they were not ready for my answer that I gave.

KING: But he says -- he listed some specifics. He said the Miss California USA pageant told us that you did not appear at a red carpet event honoring Norman Lear, an art benefit for the American Cancer Society and an appearance on this program which they had arranged.

Are those three things true?

PREJEAN: Well, Larry, I just want to clear that up for a minute and let you know...

KING: Please.

PREJEAN: ...that when your show actually called me, I was in New York. And I was at an airport, actually. And I was ready to come home. And I was tired. And I was just, you know, ready to put this controversy behind us. I was excited to move on and resume my duties as Miss California.

And I think that Mr. Lewis wanted to continue this controversy because of his personal agenda. And I wasn't ready to do so. And I think that that's where we sort of butted heads.

KING: What about the other two things, though, that you missed an event for the American Cancer, a red carpet event honoring Norman Lear...

PREJEAN: I have never...

KING: ...and an art benefit for cancer?

PREJEAN: I have never missed, Larry, a scheduled appearance. As you know, I'm sure many people know I've had -- this has been a whirlwind for me. And I've had many, many requests come in. I have a lawyer now involved. I have a public relations firm involved, that we have hundreds of requests that come in.

And there's a certain way that we have follow proper protocol in, you know, filtering out these certain requests. And it's been -- it's been really hard on me. And I haven't had, you know, one ounce of support from day one from Mr. Lewis or Shanna Moakler. And I think that that's very obvious.

KING: Yes, but what's puzzling, Carrie, if -- all right. Let's say they were upset by your remarks. They didn't like your answer.

So why didn't they just tell Donald -- he's the executive director. Why didn't they just tell Donald Trump, we're unhappy and let's pick the runner-up or whatever?

PREJEAN: Well, he did.

KING: Why...

PREJEAN: He absolutely did.

KING: Why then have you continued?

PREJEAN: He absolutely...

KING: Oh, he did tell him that?

PREJEAN: He absolutely did. I mean Keith Lewis, he held a press conference in Los Angeles and didn't invite me to the press conference and, you know, awarded the first runner up as the new ambassador of California. That is just undermining me and undermining his own titleholder from day one.

As far as the other appearances, I've had some inappropriate appearances that Keith Lewis has asked me to do. And I'm sure you're aware of them already -- one of them being Playboy; another one being a reality show which is being filmed in Costa Rica. So had I said yes to these, I mean, I would -- would have been out of the country.

Again, Playboy, I couldn't believe. I was completely shocked that he would even pass this along to me. Another one was a gay movie premiere that he wanted me to attend incognito. He actually said he wanted me to wear a hat and go in disguise and attend this movie premiere promoting gay marriage and then come out with a statement the next day saying that Carrie Prejean attended a gay movie premiere.

It just doesn't seem right, Larry, does it?

KING: This is opposite sides of the pole.

All right. When we get right down to it -- all right, let's -- it's by familiar by now. But let's replay your answer at the time. And let's get your responses to why you think they finally let you go.

Let's take another look at that famous moment.


PEREZ HILTON: Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Do you think every state should follow suit?

Why or why not?

PREJEAN: Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same- sex marriage or opposite marriage.

And you know what, in my country and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think it should be, between a man and a woman. Thank you.


KING: Carrie, though, you did say that in America you can choose same-sex marriage. Of course, only in five states can you do that. You realize now that you can't choose it...


KING: New York or in California.

PREJEAN: Right. And you know what, Larry, I am not only representing the majority of people in America, but the majority of people in California, which the state I was representing.

And, Larry, you know, I have a question for you.

Do you think that -- that Keith Lewis has shown any support?

I know you've had him on your show several times, as well as Perez Hilton.

Do you think that you've seen any support from Keith Lewis?

KING: I would have to say no. He has not come out in a strong fashion for you. The night he was on after the -- I thought he was -- he was certainly -- he did support you. And when Mr. Trump said he was keeping you...

PREJEAN: Well, of course, he had to support me.

KING: ...Mr. Lewis said he agreed with Mr. Trump, right?

PREJEAN: Of course he had to agree with Mr. Trump, Larry. Of course he had to agree with him.

KING: Yes? PREJEAN: The bottom line, he wanted me out from day one. And I'm no longer Miss California because of the stance that I took on saving traditional marriage -- bottom line.

KING: We'll have a few more moments with Carrie. And if you've got something to say to her or about the Miss California USA controversy, go to, click on the blog and start typing.

Is a lawsuit in the works?

What's going on?

We'll find out after this.


KING: We're back with Carrie Prejean, the former Miss California.

Are you now sorry you even entered?

Or, in retrospect, has this been a boom for you publicity wise?

PREJEAN: You know, this isn't something that I signed up for, Larry. I simply entered in a pageant, the Miss California U.S. contest. And I gave an answer that a lot of people weren't expecting.

The bottom line, I took a stand. And I think I am now being punished for the answer that I gave.

This isn't about contracts. This isn't about me missing out on appearances.

If you want to ask Keith Lewis any appearances that I have made prior to the Miss California U.S. pageant, I will guarantee you, Larry, he will not even -- he can't even tell you an appearance that he -- he scheduled for me.

This isn't about appearances. This isn't about a breach of contract. This is about Keith Lewis not agreeing with the stance that I took on saving traditional marriage. And from day one, he wanted me out.

KING: Donald Trump, as we all know, owns this pageant. And last month, after the controversy and the racy photos appeared or surfaced, he publicly backed you.

Let's watch that and get your reaction to the aftermath.


DONALD TRUMP: Carrie will remain Miss California. It was a controversial question. It was a tough question. It was probably a fair question, because it's asked of many people. And I've often said it, if her beauty wasn't so great, nobody really would have cared. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Were you -- were you happy that day?

PREJEAN: You know, Larry, I -- I trusted the fact that Mr. Trump would make the right decision.

And, you know, the next day after he said that I will remain Miss California, what happened?

Shanna Moakler, the executive director, resigned. I don't think that made Keith happy. And the bottom line is that my directors were never in support of the stance I took on saving traditional marriage. And I think that's why I'm here today.

KING: Yes.

Well, the Trump Organization issued this statement exclusively for this show. It reads, in part: "Hostile e-mails, the lack of communication on Carrie's part about appearances, events created insurmountable hindrance to normal business activity."

That statement also accuses you of an inability to work in a civil and mutually beneficial manner.

Quite a change in Trump's tone from a month ago.

What's your reaction to that statement?

PREJEAN: Well, it was extremely hard on both ends to deal with Mr. Lewis. As you know, I think everybody knows that the way that he had fired me goes to prove that there was a miscommunication. And it was extremely hard to deal with Mr. Lewis.

You know, there was a point where I had to call Mr. Trump every single day and say, hey, this is what I'm dealing with, you know, can I do this USS Ronald Reagan appearance?

Can I, you know, do the Special Olympics appearance?

Can I, you know, do these simple appearances that I wanted to move on and forget the controversy. I wanted to put that behind us and move on and resume the duties that I'm passionate for.

And I don't think that Keith Lewis wanted to do that so.

KING: Well, are you going to sue, Carrie?

PREJEAN: That's -- you know, that's something that is not something that I want to -- I want to do. I think that what's going on is wrong. And I think that there is definitely some information that is missing. And I know that sooner or later, the truth will come out and people will recognize here who's right and who's wrong.

KING: What are your lawyers telling you to do or advising you to do? PREJEAN: You know, that's up to my lawyers to determine whether or not they think that there will be a lawsuit involved. But that's not up to me, at this point.

KING: What are you going to do right now, career wise?

PREJEAN: Well, first of all, I want to thank the -- the millions of viewers. I know you have so many viewers on your show, Larry. Thank you so much for your support.

Thank you to all the Californians who have supported me, who backed me, who sent me thousands of letters and e-mails. I just want to thank you so much for your prayers, for your support.

And I know that when God is for you, no one can be against you. So thank you.

KING: And are you going -- can you tell us what you're going to do, though?

PREJEAN: I'm not sure.

KING: Professionally.

PREJEAN: Definitely some -- a lot of offers -- opportunities have come my way, a lot of offers.

KING: I'll bet.

PREJEAN: I'm just really excited. I'm -- I feel relieved. I feel just so blessed and so honored to have represented the State of California. And I'm ready to move on with my life and just be where God leads me.

So thank you.

KING: Thanks.

Thanks, Carrie.

Thanks for doing this.

Thanks for being with us.

PREJEAN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Carrie Prejean.

Billy Ray Cyrus is next.

What's with Miley and Nick Jonas?

We'll find out in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: It's always great to see him. He's a Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter. A new album called "Back To Tennessee. And do I even have to tell you, he co-stars in the hit Disney channel series, "Hannah Montana," with his daughter, Miley.

He's Billy Ray Cyrus.

He joins us. By the way, he's going to be performing this weekend, if you're in the LA (ph) area, Saturday at the House of Blues in Anaheim and Sunday the House of Blues in West Hollywood.

And Brandi's going to be there, too, right?

BILLY RAY CYRUS: That's right. My daughter Brandi is going to join me. And...

KING: And she's going to be here in a little while.

CYRUS: Next. Yes, sir.

KING: Have you got a quick opinion on all this Carrie Prejean thing, with same-sex marriage?

CYRUS: You know what, I think, you know, you -- you're here at CNN. You see the news every single day. You know, there's so many things going on in our world that I think that we need to really focus on. You know, I think that people -- you know, we just need to let people have the freedom to love each other, to take care of each other. The world needs a whole lot more love than it needs hate right now.

KING: Well said.

CYRUS: You know, I want everybody to get along. I want everybody...


Why can't we get along?

CYRUS: There's a lot of problems in this world right now that need addressed, you know?

And I just want to see people love each other instead of hate.

KING: Two years ago, you were on this show. Miley was pretty famous then. Now she has become a phenomena.

Any worry, seriously, Billy Ray, too much too soon?

It's your daughter.

CYRUS: Well, you know, Miley was born into the business. You know, I heard you mention Tony Bennett earlier when we were talking. You know, and I remember Miley as a little teeny baby girl coming out on stage. I was singing with Tony Bennett and The Jordanaires. KING: The Jordanaires.

CYRUS: And it was a tribute to Elvis.

And Miley crashed out on the stage. She was about two-and-a- half, three years old. And Tony Bennett picked her up and held her during the song as we were singing "Amazing Grace." And as he handed her back to me, he said, you know, you've got a special little girl there.

And then I seen Miley, you know, sitting -- I've seen Waylon Jennings show her how to play "Good-Hearted Woman," you know. And I've seen Carl Perkins, you know, talk to her about "Blue Suede Shoes" and...

KING: So this is in the blood, then?

CYRUS: Yes. I think -- I think she's been around it long enough that it, you know, it became part of her. And I think she was prepared and is prepared for this moment.

KING: Can that go -- can Hannah Montana go on forever?

We'll ask Billy Ray about that and a lot more next.



KING: Did you write that?

CYRUS: That's "Thrillbilly."

Larry, you ever get your Thrillbilly on?


CYRUS: I know you're on Twitter. There's a lot of that...

KING: I've got it. I'm a big man on Twitter.

CYRUS: Yes. There's a lot of Thrillbilly Twitters out there wanting you to get your Thrillbilly on so...

KING: Well, let me -- clue me in. I'll do it.

CYRUS: You've got it. You've got it.

KING: Miley's going to be 17 in November.

What were you doing when you were going to be 17?

CYRUS: Well, I thought for sure I was going to be the next Johnny Bench, when I was 17 years old.

KING: Oh, you were a hidden catcher? CYRUS: I thought I was going to be the catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. But, you know, I hearing this voice inside saying buy a guitar and start a band and you'll find your purpose in life.

And as I pursued it, I realized that that voice within was about me actually -- my destiny was to -- to make music and through the music, to touch people's lives and be positive and represent the light.

You know, any time you can sing and make people dance and sing along and have fun, you know, that's -- that's a joyous thing to be a part of. And I love being out with the fans. The country music fans are the greatest in all the world. And you get to go out with the fans and see them sing along with those songs like "Could Have Been Me" and "Where Am I Going To Live When I Get Home?"

For me, I had a lot of influences around me, like Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash, that said man, just be who you are and do what you do and sing what you're living and live what you're singing. You know, be yourself and be real. And I've -- I've been able to hang onto that.

KING: Were you a good baseball player?

CYRUS: I was pretty good. Yes. There was a time when Tommy Lasorda was looking at me for the Dodgers. It was right about that same time I was, you know...

KING: All right. I'll give you a hypothetical, a suppose.


KING: Suppose Billy Ray Cyrus never picked up the guitar and for 15 years was a second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds, hit .295 and had a great career and won a couple of World Series.

CYRUS: I'm guessing that my knees would probably hurt even worse than they hurt right now.


KING: That would have been it, right?

CYRUS: Yes. That would have been it.


CYRUS: You know, I definitely feel like making music and touching people's lives. That's -- that's become my purpose.

KING: That's what you do.

Celebrity blogs are abuzz, by the way, about a picture. It appears to show Miley with her nose pierced.

CYRUS: I wonder who took her to do that? KING: Who took her to do that?

CYRUS: If her daddy did that (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Did you do that?

CYRUS: (INAUDIBLE) her daddy took her?

KING: Did you do it?

CYRUS: I did.

KING: Billy Ray.

CYRUS: I know. I know. It was a...

KING: Why?

CYRUS: You know why?

It was the only thing. She said, daddy, would you take me to get my nose pierced?

I said, did you ask your momma. And she said, yes. Mama said I could do it if you would take me. And...

KING: What was that like, to take her?

where do you go to have your nose pierced?

CYRUS: It was like the opposite of when she took me to get a tattoo.


CYRUS: I don't know if you know, but she drew this little heart on my hand one day.

KING: Yes, there it is.

CYRUS: And she said...

KING: Can we get that?

CYRUS: ...and it was an official Miley day to do whatever she wanted to do. It was in church when she drew it. And after church, she said, I know what I want to do, daddy. I want to get that tattooed, exactly what I've drawn on there. And so, you know, it just kind of

KING: Where do you take someone to have a nose pierced?

Where do you go?

CYRUS: Oh, there was a little place in Studio City that we like... KING: Right here?

CYRUS: We used to mark ourselves up and pierce some bodies.

KING: Were you nervous about it?

CYRUS: Oh, I thought kind of -- you know, it was one of those bizarre moments. But honestly, like, my life and what we're going through and the things that we've been through, it's like, you know, being in "The Twilight Zone."..

KING: How do...

CYRUS: ...or Steven King writing this bizarre tale anyway. So I just kind of roll with the punches.

KING: I had a girl, my little daughter Kyra (ph). She's now 42. But I remember 17 and 17 scared me to death. I was worried about boys.

How do you deal with boys?

There's a report that your daughter recently broke up with Justin Gaston, the model. She spoke today about reconnecting with her old boyfriend, Nick Jonas.

Isn't that a little young?

To me, that was young.

CYRUS: You know what, for me, you know I -- you probably heard the song I wrote that became a big record over the last two years. It one of the most played songs over the radio. It was called "Ready, Set, Don't Go."



CYRUS: And that song is about, you know, that moment in a daddy's life when you realize your little girl's grown up and that, you know, it's time for her to make her decisions. And what I've always tried to be to Miley and to all of my kids is I try to be their friend. And It doesn't work for everybody. And, you know, but for me, that's what my dad was to me and he's my mentor of daddies. He was a good daddy to me...

KING: But you don't want her to get serious, do you?

Or do you?

CYRUS: No. The only thing...

KING: Well, suppose that she came home and she said I'm in love with Nick and I want to marry him.

Come on. You wouldn't (INAUDIBLE)...

CYRUS: Well, I would just -- you know, I would probably just -- I'd just say, well you know what, when the time comes, you'll know.

KING: Do you like Nick?

CYRUS: Oh, I love him. I love him, yes.

KING: Are they doing that, dating again, at least?

CYRUS: I'm not sure. You know, she's over in Georgia making a movie and. So that, you know, I haven't seen him for a few days. But I do know Nick's a great guy. And, actually, I was one of the first guys on the scene -- when I went for my first meeting at Walt Disney Records about me signing with Walt Disney Records, I came in carrying a Jonas Brothers CD. They had just been released off of a different record company.

And I walked in at the beginning of my meeting, handed that to the president of the record company and said man, you'd better take that listen to these Jonas Brothers. Man, these guys are great.

And they're like, really?

Oh, well, you're here to talk about your deal. And I said, I know, man. But I said, you've got to check this out, man. These guys are great. And then when I got to know Nick, you know, he's just a -- he's a great little human being and he's (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: They're all going to be on this show next Thursday night.

CYRUS: Cool.

KING: The Jonas Brothers, right here.

What mistakes did Billy Ray make that Miley could avoid?

Dad's advice after this.



KING: That's from the new album, Billy Ray Cyrus, "Back To Tennessee."

Are you an advice giver to your daughter?

So you say, look, I did this, don't do this?

CYRUS: I tell her to, you know, just follow her heart, go with her instincts, her intuition. You know, everybody in the family, we play music by ear. *

KING: -- say, look, I did this, don't do this? CYRUS: I tell her to just follow her heart, go with her instincts, her intuition. Everybody in the family, we play music by ear. As a matter of fact, in the Thrill Billy video, you see my grandfather. That's him on the fiddle back in about 1963. That's my grandfather. That's my mom on the piano. And we all played by ear.

We kind of play life the same way that we play music, and for me the same way an actor. I just go with my instincts and take it one step at a time, one day at a time. And I tell Miley, that's what life is. It's a journey and you try to make the best choices you can make. And nobody's perfect. We're all going to make mistakes. And if you realize you got yourself into something, then just readjust. You know, just take it one day at a time.

KING: Frankly, "Achy Breaky Heart," enormous hit. Good or bad, in a sense? Did it kind of label you? Did people say, well --

CYRUS: I'll be honest with you, Larry, I'm kind of living that same double-edged sword right now.

KING: With what?

CYRUS: Well, with doing "Hannah Montana" now for going on four years.

KING: They say you're copping out?

CYRUS: I think it's a little bit more of -- you know, it's a really funny show. But I'm a singer/songwriter first and foremost. And that's really who I am. For me now, with the success of Hannah, that's why we're coming with another single off this album "Back to Tennessee." It's kind of like "Ready, Set, Don't Go" was a big record. And a lot of people know that I wrote that song with a buddy with mine. That's my real life and what I live.

But "Back to Tennessee," a song I wrote for my real life and for the film.

KING: So was "Achy Breaky Heart" just an anomaly?

CYRUS: You know what? It was a real fun little song. I grew up on good time feeling southern bluegrass Pentecostal rock 'n' roll. And that's -- that song has got a little bit all that in it. It's a feel good song. Sometimes just you've got to play a song for the fun of it. It's kind of what "Thrill Billy" is. It's a song you let roar for the fun of it.

KING: Was it too commercial for the pure country fan?

CYRUS: No, the fans around the world, the fans -- it was a pretty good size. It was one of those things, you know, that -- again, it was a succession of those songs off the album "Some Gave All." "Some Gave All," the song that I wrote about the Vietnam veteran. And the next record after "Achy Breaky Heart" was a number one record called "It Could Have Been Me." And then we had another number one with "In The Heart of A Woman," and a song I wrote called "She's Not Crying Anymore" was a worldwide smash.

"Where Am I Going to Live When I Get Home?" these songs that I was writing and singing then are the songs that really hold up now. And if you get a chance to come out to one of our shows, you'll see that these fans that come to my shows really are the greatest fans in the whole wide world. They've been there from the beginning. They've been there through the tough times in the middle. And now they're here to celebrate the party now. It's a lot of fun.

I look out and see three generations. I see grandma and papa, mom and dad, and the kids. And they all know the words by heart. That makes it a lot of fun.

KING: Grandma and papa. Talent runs deep in the Cyrus family. We're going to meet Miley's big sister Brandi next.



KING: That's from the new album, Billy Ray Cyrus, "Back to Tennessee." Are you an advice giver to your daughter? Do you say, look, I did this, don't do this?

CYRUS: I tell her to just follow her heart and go with her instincts, her intuition, you know. Everybody in the family. We play music by ear. As a matter of fact -- come and rescue me


KING: Want exclusive access to the Jonas Brothers' world tour? You got it. Go to for reports. You'll get only on our website. I'm so excited, it's all next week. Our big interview is next Thursday.

OK, Brandi Cyrus is here, Miley's older sister. Billy Ray has another beautiful daughter, Brandi. She's a singer in her own right. For the record, by the way, Brandi is the oldest. You're how old?


KING: You're the aged one in the family.

B. CYRUS: Yes.

KING: Brandi's going to sing with her band, Frank and Darrell, her band, this weekend with her dad, right? Here at the House of Blues in Anaheim. That's Saturday night and Sunday at the House of Blues in West Hollywood.

Now, Billy Ray was stranded in Canada, where he was doing a TV series "Doc." About two months later, he came on this show, performed "Some Gave All," a tribute to American heroes. We're going to show you a clip of that and then go into Billy Ray and Brandi doing something together. Watch.




KING: What are you going to do, Billy?

CYRUS: We're going to do "Some Gave All" and dedicate it again to the men and women, the families that represent this great country, and every day fight to give us the freedom that we get to enjoy.

KING: Here's Billy Ray and Brandi Cyrus.


KING: Billy Ray and Brandi. It's hard to believe Wynonna's been in show business for 25 years. She's here. Talk with her in 60 seconds.


KING: She has one of the best voices in all of music, hands down. Award-winning singer, song writer, Wynonna is here. She and her mom Naomi were the country duo the Judds. She launched a solo career after the Judds disbanded. Her latest album is "Sing, Chapter One." And it's always been great to have -- it's been a couple of years since you did this show. A lot of ups and downs since then. So the obvious first question is, how are you?

WYNONNA JUDD, SINGER/SONG WRITER: Well, I'm pretty sassy. You and I just got through talking off air. And you said keep it up, Wynonna, keep it up. And I said, yes, I am.

KING: Next Friday night, I'm going to do a comedy act at the Encore Hotel in Las Vegas. And your friend and my wife, Shawn King, is going to open for me.

JUDD: I think you should open for me in Vegas. I think you should open for me in Vegas.

KING: That would be a thrill. I will do that.

JUDD: Yes.


JUDD: I'm holding you to that.

KING: Do you see life as a journey? Do you believe sometimes you need to travel a hard road to get to a good road?

JUDD: I think you have to go to hell and back several times to get spirituality. I've often said religion is for people who are afraid of hell. Spirituality is for people who have been to hell. I've been there many times. And I write songs about it. And I go out and talk to people. I still say fanfare. They say CMA festival. But I just met about 5,000 people. And I think they're relating to what it is I'm saying because life is a journey, not a destination.

KING: Does it tell in the music -- I know Sinatra told me once that the events of his life are in his songs. Is that true of you?

JUDD: Country music -- yes, country music is real people, real words, in the real world. We are dealing here in the south with issues -- you know, you and I talk an awful lot about you were growing up and here we are in this economy, craziness, and all of that. But there's always a place for music, whether in peacetime or wartime. Country music supports the military. We support people, period.

And that's -- I literally met from Wall Street to Walmart today. And I told all these women that I met who said, girl, you're looking fabulous. I said ally is my middle name. We talk about real life and we talk about real an awful lot in country music.

So I think people are identifying with that.

KING: You're there in Franklin, where you and your mom have celebrated 25 years in country music, setting up a temporary museum. How does that feel like to be -- have your own museum?

JUDD: It's really weird because, A, Franklin is Mayberry for us. It's where we go to take our kids to get ice cream. So it feels really weird to be famous in your own little small town. Yet I'm so excited about honoring my mother. Tomorrow night, we will sing in front of 50,000 people all of the Judd hits condensed into a medley. We have so many, we've had to shorten them.

And you're right, I'm celebrating 25 years. I am so grateful to have a seat at the table of country music. When I went out to Fanfare today, they had to turn people away. I thought 12-year-olds know who I am, that's a good day.

KING: She's one of my favorite people. More with Wynonna after the break.



KING: You mentioned -- you look up Wynonna Judd in the dictionary, the definition is great. And that song is from her new album "Sing, Chapter One." You're appearing with your mom, as you mentioned, at the museum, 50,000 people tomorrow night. You've had an up and down relationship. How are things with you and our dear friend, Naomi, doing now?

JUDD: We had a meeting two days ago. And I sat there and went through my list and she went through hers. And we get along better now than ever. Sorry, tabloids.

We are doing so well. We are what recovering families look like. We are in a state -- in a process, if you will, of learning how to communicate. We were so famous for so long together. We didn't really know how to do real life off stage. And so we've had to learn how to just show up at dinner, not talk politics or, you know, what do we make after taxes, or what tour are you on, what book did you write? Hey Ashley, what movie are you making?

We talk about real stuff. So we're learning to do family just like everybody else. A little too late sometimes, but at least we're doing it. And my mom is more mellow than ever. I'm definitely more balanced. I've been doing a thing called brain state, which I want to be on your show with the guy who founded it, Brain State Technologies. And my brain's balanced.

So I'm better. Mom's better. We're not bitter. We're doing great. We're working. She's 63 years old and she is living proof that miracles do happen. And tomorrow night, when she comes -- when she comes out on stage tomorrow night, there is no age. It's just attitude. She will twirl and everybody will look up to us and say, that is the American dream. That is what the Judds represent. I think people see themselves in us.

KING: I'm looking forward to doing a show on brain state, did you say?

JUDD: Yes, balancing my brain. I'm off four medications. I take Ally, and I walk, and I meditate. I'm taking better care of myself. I'm what 45 looks like, 30/15 more like it. I'm one of those recovering people who have figured out a way to be in the music business and find moderation and balance, which that used to be an oxymoron. To me, I'm learning how to heal in the music world, which is really I think probably my greatest accomplishment.

Forget the Grammies, forget all the number ones. Honestly, the thing that I'm most proud of is the fact that I've survived 25 years.

KING: Speaking of survival, you were with a bunch of fans today. We captured some of that.


JUDD: Thanks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just awesome. Just like a regular person, just like all of us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She knows what we are going through. When you've been through it, you know how to treat people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is original. She's been around a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's down to Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are human and we all experience difficult times. But it is how we come through. She has come through the storm and weathered it and has done phenomenal.


KING: Do you think --

JUDD: I'm not like everybody else. I heard somebody say --

KING: They feel attached to you.

JUDD: When I hear people say, she's just like us --

KING: You are not like anybody.

JUDD: I don't think I'm like everybody else. I'm shiny. I think I am in terms of real life, yes.

KING: Do you think fans are entitled to know a lot about your personal life?

JUDD: Yes.

KING: Because?

JUDD: If I'm -- I'll tell you why. And I'm not just kidding. I met a guy who walked up to me and said will you sign this to my mother. I said, how is she doing. He said, I want you to sign it "Rest in Peace." I said, why? He said, because I'm going to take it and put it on her grave. I think next week is her birthday.

He is literally taking my eight by 10 and he's going to put it at her grave. That is when you realize it is not about show business. This is about life and death and this is about reality of what people are experiencing every day.

My music is the backdrop of every day life. So when I look at this guy, I said, in 25 years, I have never had someone ask me to sign an autograph to take to someone's -- I was speechless. That says a lot. So I was in that moment of -- you know what, country music is unlike any other genre.

I know that fly. You know me. I love the big band stuff and all of the stuff. You and I have talked about Sinatra. But country music is my roots. These people are my family of choice. They've been with me 25 years and now they're bringing their kids. I met three and four generations today. So that's no joke.

KING: Our remaining minutes with the great Wynonna, next.



KING: What a talent. Time for our remarkable questions. The first one is from William in Statesville, North Carolina. "If your story becomes a movie, who would you choose to portray yourself in the movie?" Good question. Warren Beatty. Wow.

Next, Lois. Yes, that would be good. Next, Lois in Milberry, Massachusetts: "what is it about America that still surprises you?" That she can still change, that she has a Constitution that can still change.

You've got a question for me, ask it at Read it on the air, you get an autograph copy of "My Remarkable Journey." You'll also have a chance to win a trip to Los Angeles to see our show live.

We are with Wynonna Judd. Your new album "Chapter One" showcases standards originated shows by other artists. Get this, they include "That's How Rhythm Was Born," Tammy Wynette, "Til I Get It Right," Bill Withers, "Ain't No Sunshine," Stevie Ray Vaughn's, "The House is Rocking, Plus I Hear You Knocking," and others. Why this? Why saluting others?

JUDD: The rest of my career will be titled "What Would You Do If You Knew You Couldn't Fail?" I hit my 45th birthday this year, I said enough of worry, which is a thief of joy. I'm going to quit worrying about what I'm not and start celebrating what I am. I we went in the studio with Don and Brant for a year and a half. We looked through all these songs that I listened to while I was grounded in my room or I was on the bus before a show. You know all the songs we've talked about that mean so much.

"Until I Get It Right, I'm like a wounded bird, hungry for the sky." They don't write lyrics like this anymore. I need for that 12 year old to know where we come from. I know that we love Miley Cyrus. And I love all the youngsters coming along. I think we must not forget our legends. We are losing them. This album is a dedication of being just grateful. I must not forget that Merle Haggard was the very first country concert I ever went to. I sang at Tammy Wynette's funeral. I watched Stevie Ray Vaughn practice guitar when I was 15 years old.

Hello. My journey has been incredibly adventurous. I've got all kinds -- listen, I sang with Patti Labelle and Chaka Khan, and I'm in the middle. And I'm looking at both of them like, how did I get here? Somehow, I managed to fit into these situations, because I continue to show up and wait for god to walk through the room, and remarkable things happen.

This record is -- I'm not going to worry about format. I'm not going to worry about where I belong. I'm just going to sing. That is why we titled it "Chapter One, Sing," because there are many chapters to come.

KING: You're not kidding. Billy Ray was just with us. Would you like to sing with Miley?

JUDD: I would have to think about that one. In my opinion, I don't care how successful you are and how much money you have and how many records you are selling, it has to make sense musically. I will tell you this, I'm supposed to talk to Tony Bennett in the next couple of days. Can we talk. I'm in that place, where I'm looking ahead and going, OK, let's not forget Tony Bennett. Miley is important and she lives like five miles from me. If she called me, I would have her come to my house and do some chores, and then think about singing with her. You know what I'm talking about? You know what I'm saying. It would have to make sense.

KING: If the new album is chapter one, does that mean there is chapter two?

JUDD: I am such a work in progress. Next record I may decide to do all Sinatra songs. I just did this show Nothing but Sinatra on satellite radio. I'm everywhere. I'm global. I'm going literally from Washington, D.C. to L.A. We are doing a Christmas tour. I got the record out. I'm a working mama. I sing country. I sing rock. I sing blues.

KING: Wynonna, you are an American treasure. If you and Tony Bennett sing together, that is a double treasure.

JUDD: Seriously, could you imagine. I cried. I got the message from my manager and she said, Tony would love to sing with you. I seriously started to cry. I said this is like a tabernacle thing. We have to not forget that Tony Bennett is the greatest.

KING: What a way to close it. That is a big one. Thanks, Wynonna.

JUDD: I love you.

KING: Love you, baby.

JUDD: I love you and you know that.

KING: I know it. That is Wynonna Judd. They don't come any better. Time for an "AC 360" special, "American Radical, The Lone Wolf," right now.