Carly Pearce Sang ‘Grandpa’ at The Judds’ Hall of Fame Ceremony at Wynonna’s Request
Carly Pearce honored the Judds with a moving performance of their 1986 hit "Grandpa (Tell Me About the Good Old Days)" at the Country Music Hall of Fame's Medallion Ceremony on Sunday (May 1). The ceremony continued on as planned in accordance with the family's wishes just one day after Naomi Judd died, and Pearce's song choice came at Wynonna Judd's request.
"I got a call that Wynonna had a special request for someone to sing ‘Grandpa,’" Pearce reveals. "And she didn’t know that I was gonna be there. And I had to change my song at the last second, and it truly was, I think, the most nervous I’ve ever been in my career.”
The "Never Wanted to Be That Girl" singer was scheduled to be a surprise guest at the ceremony. As a lifelong fan of the duo, of course she jumped at the opportunity, but after hearing the news of Naomi's death, she didn't believe the ceremony would go on.
“I was called a few months ago by the Hall of Fame and was asked to be one of the surprise musical guests honoring the Judds at their induction into the Hall of Fame, so, I was already freaking out. I love the Judds. ‘Why Not Me’ was one of my absolute favorite songs of all times," she confesses. "And in light of what happened I certainly didn’t think that the ceremony would go on, but I think that’s such a testament to the strength of the Judds daughters, Ashley and Wynonna, just that they wanted to keep it going."
It meant a lot for Pearce to perform in honor of the Judds, as a lifelong fan and as a friend of Wynonna's.
"Wynonna was my first concert," Pearce says. "And when I won Female Vocalist of the Year at the CMAs, I got a random phone number that I answered, and she said, ‘Carly, it’s Wynonna.’ And we’ve become friends since then, and she’s been such a pillar of wisdom for me in this business, which has blown my mind even that I get to say that. The Judds are from Kentucky, too, and I’ve idolized them since I was a little girl and, especially Wynonna."
"And just to actually look in her eyes and see the pain as I’m singing this song that was one of the greatest country songs of all time with her sweet mom, I really don’t have words for it,” she adds.
Four medallions were handed out on Sunday. In addition to the Judds, the late Ray Charles, late guitarist Pete Drake and drummer Eddie Bayers were also honored.
Pearce was one of 11 performers who took the stage at this year's Medallion Ceremony. Trisha Yearwood offered up "Walkaway Joe," which features Bayers' drums, and Garth Brooks brought Ray Charles' "Seven Spanish Angels" to the stage.
Other performing artists included the War and Treaty, Wendy Moten, Vince Gill, Bettye Lavette, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Marty Stuart. Before closing out the night with the Carter Family's "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," Stuart remarked, "Country music's broad shoulders and even bigger heart were showcased here tonight."