Neon Songbook Radio with Hunter Kelly

Few artists have influenced country music more than the Judds. The celebrated duo—Wynonna Judd and the late Naomi Judd—released six studio albums together before parting ways in the early ’90s, earning a handful of Grammys, a collection of hit singles, and a legion of loyal fans along the way. On Neon Songbook Radio, host Hunter Kelly will take listeners on a journey from the early days of the duo’s career in the 1980s all the way to the present day, including the pair’s 2022 induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. An acclaimed country music journalist and a host of Apple Music’s Proud Radio, Kelly is also a lifelong Judds fan. He grew close with both Naomi and Wynonna in recent years, developing a deep trust that allowed both artists to feel comfortable sharing their unfiltered stories with him. Accordingly, Neon Songbook charts not just their career highs but the bumps in the road along the way too, offering a rich, nuanced look at how the mother-daughter pair became country music royalty. “Getting Naomi and Wynonna to the point of being able to talk about these songs and really honor the music in this way means the world to me,” Kelly tells Apple Music. “Some of these interviews were done a few years ago, and I’m far enough away from them that when I come back, I'm like, ‘Wow, this is really a once-in-a-lifetime chance to tell this story with Wynonna and Naomi.’” While Neon Songbook offers a thorough overview of the Judds’ career, Kelly also gets into the nitty-gritty details of how many of their best-loved songs were written and recorded, taking special care to highlight their technical abilities as writers and performers, debunking the idea that the pair was better known for making headlines than making music. “It was special, being able to foster that kind of relationship with both of them where, on one level, they seem so familiar, but also I'm able to step back and see them not just as the heroes that they are to me, but also as musical pioneers,” Kelly says. Guests on Neon Songbook include fellow luminaries like Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt, as well as close Judds collaborators Brent Maher and Don Potter, all of whom offer greater context into the pair’s legacy. Through these interviews, Kelly shines a light on not just the influence the Judds have had on other artists, but also insightful, never-before-heard details of the two artists’ processes in the studio and onstage. Most of the series was recorded before Naomi’s passing in the spring of 2022, with Kelly revising the series’s final episode to reflect upon her sudden death. Through and through, though, Neon Songbook is a joyful, enlightening, and often humorous celebration of two of country music’s most important artists and the ways they forever changed the genre. “I want this to be an ongoing celebration of Naomi's and Wynonna's insane talent,” Kelly says. “I want to celebrate everything that Wynonna will do going forward, but also Naomi's quirkiness, her drive, her ambition, and her place as a songwriter. I don't think that she gets enough credit for that. My hope for this project is for the Judds' music to be elevated to a new level.”