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Wynonna Ponders Her Rocket Ride To National Stardom

Sitting with her baby and her boyfriend in her mother’s kitchen a few weeks ago, Wynonna - eldest daughter of Naomi Judd - ponders the difference between the lives of the Judd family’s trio of prominent women and the lives of practically everybody else she knows.

“Most people live, work and die,” she muses. “That’s basically how WE started out in life. Then, boom, something happened to us, and it’s still continuing.”

She notes that the father of her boyfriend, Arch Kelley, “worked for 40 years, and he gets a color TV” in observance of his recent retirement. “And here I’ve been working for 10 years, and I get adoration every single day,” she continues. “How did three women (herself, her mother, and her actress-sister Ashley) get so stinkin’ lucky? How can you win the lottery three times?”

As she notes, the success is still continuing. Now, of course, the Judd women are subjects of tonight’s and Monday’s NBC-TV miniseries “Naomi and Wynonna: Love Can Build a Bridge,” whose production proceeded while Wynonna fashioned her solo career’s third album AND did on-the-job training in mothering.

Wynonna says that when she left the road, came home to become a single mother and went into virtual seclusion, she felt “wounded by the critics” (of her unmarried pregnancy). “I felt as though I had let a lot of people down, including myself, because I didn’t plan that, and I realized I had to figure out what I was going to do. Mom, meanwhile, was (overseeing the filming of) the miniseries, and she flies home after filming my birth to be with me at Elijah’s birth. All these things are happening, drama after drama, and it’s just so weird being who we are sometimes, because of all the things that happen and the way they happen.”

She points out that around the time she went home to give birth to the baby, to whom she gave the biblical name Elijah, she and her mother left the manager and booking agent who had handled their careers for a decade.

“Now I have sort of this idea that I can be whatever I want to be,” she says. “It’s almost like when you become bankrupt; there’s a fresh new start. Even though you’re terrified, there’s an excitement because you know you don’t have anything to lose. For a while I was sort of without a job. I relate to that person who goes into the boss’s office and says, ‘I quit.’ Walking out there’s such a freedom. Then the next day you wake up and go, ‘I have to get a job. I’m starting over.”’

Tales from naked city

Viewers of The Nashville Network’s “Music City Tonight” weeknight series recently heard Naomi Judd make some humorously cryptic remarks about being interrupted while dressing in her bus before the show by a guest on the production, Jimmy Rankin of Canada’s increasingly famous Rankin Family.

Obviously embarrassed, Jimmy said little about it on the broadcast, but afterward, in response to a question, said he simply walked into the wrong bus “by accident. Our bus was parked there, and they moved the bus, and I had my head down thinking about something and just walked into her bus. I didn’t get too far in the door.”

“Come on, Jimmy, you were eavesdropping,” his sister Cookie teases.

Tim McGraw video out

A long-form video look at multiplatinum artist Tim McGraw - whose 1994-released first album, “Not a Moment Too Soon,” has sold 4.5 million copies - has just hit stores.

Titled “An Hour With Tim,” the package features interviews, footage shot in concert as well as offstage, and McGraw’s five hits so far. Distributed by Warner/Vision Entertainment, the production also features an opening narration by Merle Haggard.

Herndon tells secrets

Ty Herndon - whose first single, “What Mattered Most,” is currently big - says he and producer Doug Johnson employed an interesting method to achieve the noteworthy level of emotional involvement on his debut album, also titled “What Mattered Most.”

“For the uptempo songs, we went into these real small funky studios,” Herndon says. “That way the energy flowed from one to another, and everybody fed off everyone else. But when it was time to sing those ballads, we went into the big concert rooms where there was plenty of space for whatever emotion we needed to draw out.”

You get the feeling, though, that Herndon didn’t need many gimmicks to evoke his emotion. Reared in a strong family environment in Butler, Ala., his first attraction to music was in church.

“We were spirit-filled Baptists, Assembly and Church of God people,” he recalls. “I was raised on the spirit side of religion, where there’s a bass and a beat and people testifying with music.”

Herndon also is familiar with hard times and the appreciation of good times that they can spawn.

“My dad came from a family with 12 kids, and they were so poor they had oranges and nuts for Christmas,” he says. “Because of that, he was never allowed to have his dreams, and it (dreaming) was something he encouraged in all of us. When that’s how you’re raised, you naturally see the best in everything.”

That spirit communicated itself through “What Mattered Most,” he indicates.

“People have been calling the radio stations telling all these wonderful stories. It’s touching people. They’re responding, and figuring out what’s important in their lives. That’s the whole point of all of this.”

Rabbitt-Gayle wail

Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle, who years ago had a big hit with the duet “Just You and I,” hope for a little deja vu with their just-released “I Made a Promise to You,” which is from the soundtrack of the Miramax movie “Gordy.”