Nightline Playlist: Wynonna Judd

Growing up in Ashland, Ky., in the early 1970s, Christina Claire Ciminella was a lonely teenager living with a single mother and no television or telephone in the house.

Her escape was listening to singers Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt on the radio, and dreaming that one day singer Bonnie Raitt would pull up in her driveway and take her away.

Christina's mother, Diana Ellen Judd, was working as a nurse who enjoyed singing on the side. By the time Christina was 12 years old, her mother realized she was a gifted singer, and gave her a guitar. The young teen taught herself to play and was soon singing on her back porch at the top of her lungs.

In 1977, mother and daughter started planning a move to Nashville to break into the music business. After a divorce, Diana changed her name to Naomi, a biblical name. Following her mother's lead, Christina changed her name too; to Wynonna, from a lyric in Nat King Cole's song "Route 66." The country duo sensation, The Judds, was born.

"We were living in the country and I think I just picked [the guitar] up to entertain myself," Wynonna Judd told "Nightline" in a recent interview at The Spotted Pig in New York City's West Village.

"The next thing I know, I am flailing away in my room to Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris, and all these incredible she-roes."

Today, Judd, 44, is celebrating 25 years of success in the music business. "I still have that feeling of, 'How did I get so blessed.' And I've struggled with it for years, not feeling worthy of it. I'm starting to understand that it's a gift and it's OK to accept it and enjoy it."

Her new album, Sing-Chapter 1, is an assortment of songs paying tribute to different genres and artists that have influenced her through the years. Looking back, Judd told 'Nightline' the reasons behind some of her favorite songs.

'You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio'

Mitchell is one of Judd's all-time "she-roes." Judd says she knows every recording Mitchell has ever done, and considers Mitchell's music to have helped her through some of the tough times when she was living in borderline welfare conditions with her mom and half-sister, Ashley.

Wanting to Be Like Ronstadt and Harris

"I just remember the pain and the passion and the sass," she said. "It was a lonely time for me as a 12-year-old, I was facing teenage years when everybody is out socializing. I was singing Linda Ronstadt, I was singing Emmylou Harris.

"I wanted to be like them. I wanted to blaze my own trail, but I followed their legacy. I mean, they left me a legacy. You know, I stand on their shoulders."

'Women Be Wise'

Judd admired Raitt's musical style while teaching herself to play guitar. "I was a diva-in-training in my mind. I mean, 13 [years old], and I'm singing, "Women Be Wise," you know?" she said, starting to sing the opening lyrics, "Women be wise, keep your mouth shut. Don't advertise your man.

"I used to watch Bonnie play guitar and just think, she is the sexiest woman alive. You know, I want to be like her when I grow up," she said. "I just knew I was destined to do what I'm doing today, I just didn't know how far it would take me."

'Till I Get It Right'

Singer Tammy Wynette encouraged Judd to always be herself, and to never let anyone change her.

"History is so sacred to me," Judd said. "Wandering the halls of the Opry House through the years, and seeing Waylon [Jennings] and Willie [Nelson] in one dressing room and then seeing Tammy Wynette in another dressing room, and Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn.

"I called [Tammy] my 'Earth Angel' and I sang at her memorial and you know, she was the kind of woman that even in spite of her greatness, talent and fame and fortune, she never forgot who she was and where she came from. She was a hairdresser and she still had a hair salon in her home when she passed."

'Tell Me Something Good'

Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle are two of Judd's other "she-roes." She recalls an event where she was star-struck meeting them both.

"I'm just, I'm standing in the middle between Chaka and Patti and I'm going, somebody get a picture! And I'm kind of freaking out."

Chaka Khan's anthem "Tell Me Something Good" is another of Judd's favorites, although it's hard for her to choose just a few.

"I am so musical A-D-D," she admits. "I have a song for every mood, which I have many. I am a combination of everything from the blues to rock to gospel."

She laments that so many of the great musicians she grew up listening to are no longer living, or have grown older and are no longer recording. "We're losing our legends, we really are," she said "We're coming down to a time where we're losing a lot of them, and I just don't want to forget where I've come from in country music.

'The Best'

"I listen to Tina Turner "Simply the Best" because I always say my best is good enough," Judd said. "I'm in sort of in the recovery for perfectionism and work addiction, you know. I've worked so hard for 25 years trying to bust my butt to be something.

"I just am so blessed to have the journey I've had," she said. "I'll be 45 this year and I'm just not going to live in fear anymore of, 'Oh, what if I don't fit into the format,' or 'What if they don't want me.' I'm just going to sing and see what happens. And that's the truth. I've worked really hard to get there."