The Reason Why Naomi Judd Changed Her First Name

The Judds / YouTube

In the aftermath of Naomi Judd‘s passing on April 30 at the age of 76, people are looking back at her incredible life story. That story starts with the day of her birth on January 11, 1946.

But the woman the world would later come to know and love as Naomi Judd was not born with that name. Her birth name was Diana Ellen Judd.


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Diana was the name she carried for a large part of her life. It was the name she went by when she had her two daughters, Christina and Ashley. Christina would later change her first name as well…to Wynonna.

Naomi’s daughters were still young when her first marriage ended. After splitting from her husband, Michael Ciminella, she wanted to change her last name back to her maiden name, Judd.

I did not feel like a Ciminella. I was a Judd and darned proud of it,” Naomi told author Bob Millard, who wrote the 1988 biography The Judds.

Since she was already changing her last name, Naomi chose to change her first name too. As Millard wrote in his book:

She felt at the time that [the name Diana] wasn’t close enough to her own spiritual, rural Kentucky conception of her true heritage.”

She turned to the Bible in search of inspiration. She felt a connection to Naomi, the mother-in-law of Ruth, and so she chose Naomi as her new first name.

Wynonna later followed in her mother’s footsteps and opted to change her name as well. She felt like she had taken on a new identity when she discovered music, and wanted a new name to reflect that.


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Millard writes that Wynonna ended up choosing her now-famous name after hearing the song “Route 66.” The song mentions the town of Winona, Arizona, and that line inspired Wynonna to pick her new name.

Wynonna also opted to take on her mother’s maiden name, Judd. Later, when Naomi and Wynonna formed a singing duo, they became The Judds.

Ashley kept her first name. But she too, chose to be called Ashley Judd when she started her own career as an actress.

Naomi’s legacy lives on through the music she made with the name she chose for herself. Her legacy also lives on through the daughters who carry her famous last name…a last name that is recognized by country music fans around the world.