The glam-country act of the artist now known simply as Wynonna hit the Wolf Trap stage Sunday night right about the time the first installment of a two-part miniseries about the Judd family's tabloid-friendly history began airing on NBC. So it was probably by design that the opening number, "Wyld Unknown," found Wynonna railing against the media's invasions of her private life and how "all that trash don't bother me none."
In glittery platform shoes, and with a fluffy red mane and eyes that sparkled all the way back to the lawn seats, she flaunted the showwomanship of a Las Vegas headliner and the brassiness of a biker.
To appease those fans who didn't have their VCRs running at home, she dished a miniseries's worth of dirt about herself, constantly reminding the star-struck crowd that she was raised by her mother, apart from her equally luminous little sister, Ashley Judd, and that at 35 she is now bringing up two kids on her own. The confessions, like much of the material in her 15-song set and her heartening between-songs banter, appeared aimed to please and uplift the single-mother contingent in her audience.
Wynonna took obvious pleasure in maligning males at the venue and anywhere else on the planet. She hip-checked guitarist John Conley whenever possible, slapped a lot of bald guys up front on the tops of their heads, and announced again and again that whether onstage or off, she calls all the shots.
She calls them with what may be the godliest set of pipes in popular music, a voice that allowed Wynonna to be one of the few artists to both thrive during Nashville's neo-traditionalist wave in the mid-1980s and survive the Garth Brooks-inspired shift toward mainstream pop that took hold in the country realm earlier in this decade. Her malleability was best displayed in the glorious pop anthem "Tell Me Why" and in the encore, an a cappella reading of the spiritual that Elvis Presley so favored, "How Great Thou Art." After the latter number, the crowd let Wynonna know it felt her art was pretty great, too, with a prolonged standing ovation and an uncountable number of "You go, girl!" cheers.