I have never been one to follow celebrities; they are human, just like you and me. Living and working among them in the Lake Arrowhead area for over 20 years you learn to ignore the celebrity status and treat them like any other person you would meet – which most of them on vacation in the mountain resorts wanted, especially those who lived there full time.
Sunday, Feb. 17, at the Riverside County Fair and Date Festival, I had the opportunity to see someone who is in the limelight and whose music I have always enjoyed, Wynonna Judd. I was surprised she would be at such a small fair in an out of the way place such as Indio, but she was. She noted she was comfortable there, that it reminded her of the many fairs that she and her mom preformed at the beginning of the Judd’s career.
There had been a long wait and it was getting cold, people were getting restless and after 45 minutes many people left. When she finally came on stage she was visibly shaken, bothered about something. Her voice was not at its usual strength. My heart went out to her as she began to sing and as the music flowed you could see her heart begin to lift. She shared with the audience how she normally does not watch TV. She shared if she needs to know something she figures someone will tell her. Well they did, in a tweet. She had just heard that a fellow country singer Mindy McCready had passed away.
Later I found out it was believed to be at Mindy’s own hand, she had suffered the tragic loss a month earlier of her longtime boyfriend, David Wilson, and father of her young son, the same way. Both deaths are being investigated as a suicide.
Suffering the tragic loss of someone brought a flood of feelings, as a community the senseless loss of officers lives recently, and the fact that I knew Officer Jeremiah MacKay as a young man made it easy for me to understand why she needed time before she came out on stage. She continued to sing song after song, sharing with the audience how healing she felt music was and how it was good to get out and let go once in a while and just enjoy yourself, and she was right, it was good. She shared she had just been married last June and everyone cheered. Then she shared what most did not know, that last August her husband Cactus had been in a severe accident while riding his Harley and lost his leg and severely injured his hand. He was her drummer. He was unable to be with her that night and you could see she missed him. More music lifted the spirit as she took time between being candid and joking that back home she was raising two teenagers that had no idea she was famous; everyone laughed. More music and then they were done too soon.
People began to leave not knowing that if you clap and holler you may get an encore. With not much prompting, the band returned and then in a crescendo of hoots and hollers Wynonna returned. She sang “Grandpa tell me about the Good Old Days.” I was moved to tears. Then more music, fun and hip; it was nice to get to know the person behind the voice.
That night I realized that a performer, performing live, leaves a bit of their soul behind. I now appreciate that and think I will be more mindful in the future of the price and sacrifice of fame, and the life lived behind the talent.
Wynonna will be performing in Northern California. Go to