We can’t think of a better way to kick off the 2023 CMA Awards than with a powerful duet from rapper-turned-country singer Jelly Roll, who later in the evening was crowned “best new artist,” and Wynonna Judd, one of the ultimate country music legends.
While their rendition of Jelly Roll’s hit song “Need a Favor” was powerful and had the whole crowd (including Post Malone and Nicole Kidman) dancing and singing along, it had fans worried about Judd’s health.
During the entirety of her time on stage with Jelly Roll on Wednesday night, Judd held onto Jelly Roll’s arm.
The rapper-singer kicked off the first verse on his own. About one minute in, he extended an arm to welcome Judd to the stage as a surprise duet partner. At first, the duo shook hands, but right when they were going to release, Judd shifted her arm to Jelly Roll’s shoulder. Throughout the next two minutes, she never released—in fact, she began grasping tightly on the fabric of Jelly Roll’s leather jacket.
Soon after their standing ovation, viewers took to social media to speculate if something might be causing Judd to feel “off" or whether her vertigo was back.
Twice this year, Judd has publicly acknowledged struggling with vertigo. In January, vertigo kept her from performing in Nashville. In February, she experienced dizziness on stage in Dayton, Ohio. In that instance, after getting her footing amidst the dizzy spell, the “Love Can Build a Bridge” singer had a sense of humor about it, and even joked, “If I faint, just take a lot of pictures, okay?"
After the CMA Awards performance, rather than let the rumor mill spin, Judd quickly took to social media to share her side of the story.
“They say don’t read the comments,” Judd says in a post-awards show TikTok video, during which she’s smiling and looks relieved. “I’ve read the comments, and I’m just going to come clean with y’all. I was so freaking nervous. I got out there, and I looked at Jelly Roll and I wanted it to be so good for him.”
If you watch closely during the performance, Judd rarely (if ever) peers out over the audience. Instead, she looks at Jelly Roll, the choir behind the duo, or the stage in front of her.
“I was so nervous that I just held on for dear life. That’s the bottom line…all is well,” she adds, with a big sigh, confirming that the show will go on and that she was actually already en route to a performance the next day.
Fans rushed in with warm messages of support, including, “I’m just glad you’re okay. You sounded great. 🥰” Another referenced one of her many hit songs, adding, “You were amazing! you go girl! Let the haters hate. Love will build a bridge.”
Another said they, too, would like a rock like Jelly Roll at their side: “I was so worried about you! I'm glad it was nerves and nothing serious. Jelly Roll was a perfect guy to have to hold. Have fun on the rest of tour. 😁”
We’re relieved that Wynonna is okay—and ready to rock again!
You Might Also Like