The Truth About Wynonna And Ashley Judd's Relationship

It's no secret that the members of the Judd family have had their fair share of ups and downs over the years. The famous trio — made up of the late Naomi Judd and her daughters, Wynonna Judd and Ashley Judd – have repeatedly hit the headlines for their big falling outs and equally big makeups. Naomi in particular has been open about her tumultuous life both before and after becoming a mom, first giving birth to Wynonna with her then boyfriend, Charles Jordan, back in 1964 before welcoming Ashley four years later in 1968 with her first husband, Michael C. Ciminella.

The Judd sisters appeared to grow up close in their childhood, but their adult life has been peppered with drama. And that's not just when it comes to the siblings, but with their mom too. But what is Wynonna and Ashley's relationship really like, and how close are the sisters really? Let's take a look back at the twosome's fractured relationship — and cross your fingers that "Love Can Build a Bridge."

A Judd sister's song

In 1997, Wynonna Judd released "Come Some Rainy Day," a song that happens to be a nod to her sister, Ashley Judd. Though the track was actually written by Billy Kirsch and Bat McGrath, some of the lyrics are widely reported to be inspired by the Judds' childhood. Ashley even joined her big sister on stage as she performed the hit during CBS's "The Judds Reunion Concert" back in 2000, creating a poignant moment between the duo as pictures of the two flashed up in the background.

In the 2011 memoir "All That Is Bitter and Sweet," Ashley writes that Wynonna was so excited to become a big sister. "My sister, who was four, thought I was a gift just for her," Ashley says of her own birth. She continues, "In photographs, I am lying on my belly while she powders my back, or she is sitting in a small rocker holding the little bundle that was infant me. She would rock away, pausing only to pat my cheek." Adorable.

Ashley Judd's abandonment allegations

Though the Judd sisters seemed very close when they were young, the two appeared to start to grow apart around the time Wynonna Judd joined forces with their mom, Naomi Judd, to form country music duo The Judds. Ashley Judd opened up about how seeing her mom and sister work together and travel around the country on sold out tours really made her feel, as she stayed at home with her dad to attend school. In her 2011 memoir "All That Is Bitter and Sweet," Ashley writes that she experienced depression while her mom and sister were in the spotlight, sharing that she always believed she would not be a part of their country music world. She also claims her family members were dismissive of her when she sang for them as a child, writing, "It was confusing, and it broke my spirit. I never sang again."

Ashley took aim at what life was really like at home in the book, writing (via Radar Online), "My mother, while she was transforming herself into the country legend Naomi Judd, created an origin myth for the Judds that did not match my reality." She also claimed that her mom made her father, Michael Ciminella, believe he was also Wynonna's biological father for many years. "[Naomi] and my sister Wynonna have been quoted as saying that our family put the 'fun' in dysfunction. I wondered: 'Who, exactly, was having all the fun? What was I missing?'"

The Judds' 'precious relationship'

In "All That Is Bitter and Sweet," Ashley Judd alleges she was sexually abused but no one in her family believed her (via ABC News). Per The Hollywood Reporter, during a 2011 appearance on "The View," both Naomi Judd and Wynonna Judd addressed Ashley's book. Naomi admitted she partly agreed with Ashley's claims of neglect, and Wynonna stated that she was in her sister's corner. "People are trying to almost pit us against each other and I want to come out and say, 'Listen, we agree to disagree in our family, but we show up and support each other for who we are,'" she said. 

In March 2012, Ashley appeared on "Nightline" to give an update on where she stood with Naomi and Wynonna, while also getting candid about her mental health. "I love my sister and every time she walks in the room, I light up. There's just nothing like a big sister," Ashley shared. "We've learned, they've certainly been famous a lot longer than I have, and we've learned that it's really best not to dissemble our relationships in public," she added. Ashley also shared that at that time, she had a "precious relationship" with her mom, and by extension her sister.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Wynonna Judd's wedding snub

Wynonna Judd's 2012 wedding to Cactus Moser wasn't exactly the big, mushy family affair fans of the Judd family likely wanted. In fact, it was pretty prickly (get it?). Neither Wynonna's mom, Naomi Judd, nor her sister, Ashley Judd, were invited to her big day — despite them living on the same property the ceremony was held on. Awkward. 

The star even threw a little shade at her sis when asked if her family was aware of the nuptials, telling Us Weekly, "Ashley's probably so busy with Dario [Franchitti] having won the Indianapolis 500, she probably doesn't even know." The "I Saw the Light" singer went on to explain that she feared their attendance would somehow pull focus from the event. "If I know Ashley, she would have re-positioned my dress, or Mom would have given me a Kleenex to stuff in my bra, or told me, I have something in my teeth," she said. "I just didn't want that. I just wanted to get married!" Wynonna also elaborated on where they stood, admitting they weren't really talking but were planning a family meeting to discuss their boundaries.

But that wasn't the first time the family didn't come together for a life event. When Ashley wed Franchitti (her now ex-husband) in Scotland in 2001, it appeared as though her mom and sister did not make the trip. One person who did, though? Donald Trump's brother, Robert Trump, was on hand for the big day, per Belfast Telegraph.

The tracking device drama

Okay, this one's a little wild, so buckle up. In December 2013, Ashley Judd accused Wynonna Judd of placing a tracking device on her car. According to ABC News, it was alleged in police records that a private investigator hired by Wynonna may have had something to do with the incident, while it was also reported Wynonna's former husband, Arch Kelley, was involved. As for why Wynonna could potentially want to track Ashley's vehicle? Well, police described the whole incident as being part of a custody battle within the Judd family as it was rumored Ashley may have been granted custody of Wynonna and Arch's daughter, Grace Kelley.

Wynonna denied having any involvement at the time, but it later seemed she may have revealed her involvement via her lawyer. The Boot reported that Wynonna's attorney allegedly confirmed she put the device on the vehicle in order to keep tabs on Grace, not because she wanted to track Ashley's whereabouts. It was also claimed that the whole thing may have been blown out of proportion, though Wynonna doesn't appear to have ever publicly commented on the matter herself.

The whole thing was made even more bizarre by the fact that Wynonna publicly had her little sister's back less than two months earlier. Per Taste of Country, the country music star took to Twitter to fire back at Wendy Williams after the talk show host made inappropriate jokes about Ashley not having children. Wynonna later tweeted that Williams apologized.

Everything was 'good' between Ashley and Wynonna Judd

Fast-forward another year in the life of the Judds, and it seemed like things were back to being okay between the famous family by the time 2014 rolled around.

As recapped by the Daily Mail, Naomi Judd was the one to offer this update after an inquisitive Andy Cohen asked the country music legend about her family dynamics during an appearance on "Watch What Happens Live." Naomi revealed she knew exactly where both daughters were at that moment: "Wynonna is staying out on the road so stinkin' much, singing. Ashley, I know, is in the Smoky Mountains, hiking." Cohen then asked if everything was "good" between them, to which she responded, "Yeah... But it's that mother-daughter relationship, you know?" Cohen also questioned the star on her multiple appearances with her family members on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and if she ever revealed something she regretted. Naomi stated she hadn't and joked, "I have so many problems I could do group therapy just by myself!"

That came shortly after Wynonna spoke about Ashley's potential career change plans after she hinted at getting into the realm of politics — and she actually threw her support behind her little sis. Admitting she would vote for her, Wynonna told Us Weekly in 2013, "I don't agree with anything she says half the time. We're so different. But I love my sister. I am for Ashley."

Did Wynonna Judd shade her sister?

In January 2017, Judd family feud rumors swirled once again after Wynonna Judd appeared to diss Ashley Judd after the latter made an appearance at The Women's March on Washington. Ashley appeared to call out her own family for voting for then President Donald Trump, telling them, "You voted for a p**** grabber."

Many believed Wynonna didn't take too well to the apparent call-out, as she tweeted, "For me, it's about love of & fellowship w/ fans. I don't do politics on here." That sounds all well and good, but coupled with Ashley's politically charged comments, it certainly had some interesting timing. Wynonna then followed up by replying to a thread when a fan asked directly about her only sister. "I try to stay away from that toxicity," she  wrote, before noting, "the whole thing is toxic. I'm not giving her all the credit. She doesn't have that kind of power."

However, she later denied she was slamming Ashley despite the way her tweets sounded. "I would not bash my sister ever," she tweeted. In an effort to convince people all was well behind the scenes, Wynonna doubled down, "Last time I saw my sister we hugged. And, in our family we agree to disagree and we support WHO we are."

Sisters helping sisters

Not too much went down between the Judd family over the next few years — at least publicly — but we do know Wynonna Judd had her sister's back when Ashley Judd suffered a serious accident during a humanitarian trip to Democratic Republic of the Congo. In an Instagram Live session with Nicholas Kristof in February 2021, the actor shared that she had to be put in the Intensive Care Unit after getting nerve damage and shattering her leg in four different places. Ashley also recalled the distressing story of how she was left for five hours lying on the ground in a forest until a rescue team could get to her.

Fortunately, Ashley made it home to the U.S., where Wynonna headed to her bedside. The latter revealed that the "Kiss The Girls" actor's recovery had been a "miracle" as she revealed that Ashley texted her to ask if she could come over and wash her hair. "Therein lies the job of a big sister right there," Wynonna joked to Page Six, adding that she'd seen Ashley for the first time since the accident a few days prior.

A tragedy for the Judd family

On April, 30, 2022, Ashley Judd and Wynonna Judd's mother, Naomi Judd, died unexpectedly. In an emotional "Good Morning America" appearance, Ashley confirmed Naomi died by suicide at home — and she was the one who found her body. Prior to that, it was the sisters who announced her death via a joint statement posted to Instagram, which began, "Today we sisters experienced a tragedy."

The siblings were sadly bonded over the tragedy and even made a joint appearance at The Judds' induction ceremony into the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, which took place just one day after their mother's death. The two shared a heart-wrenching hug on stage, and Ashley posted a touching photo of the two comforting one another as they looked at The Judds' new Country Music Hall of Fame plaque together. As for Wynonna, she shared a throwback photo of herself as a child with her mom and sister a few days after the tragedy. "I miss her," she wrote.

Per CNN, during Naomi's memorial, which featured a number of musical performances and heartfelt speeches, Wynonna acknowledged that even though things haven't always been smooth for her own family, they're still family. "We're showing the world what a dysfunctional family does," she said. "You show up for each other."

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.