Wynonna has a tendency to let other redheads upstage her.
On “Revelations,” her first TV special as a solo artist, the country star is upstaged not by her mom, Naomi Judd, but by her year-old son, Elijah, and guest Bette Midler. (OK, they’re strawberry blondes, though only their hairdressers know for sure.)
Midler does a solo number as well as a duet of her classic “The Rose” with Wynonna. Midler’s natural hamminess onstage coaxes a less than wacky Wy into an impromptu hula during “Ukulele Lady.” But it’s little Elijah who warms hearts by crawling onto the stage while his mom sings “My Angel Is Here,” underlining the meaning of the song.
Elijah is the love-child that got the unwed Wy more tabloid coverage than she could cope with. She uses a section of “Revelations” to take on the tabs in a lighthearted way. The program also takes viewers to her January wedding to Nashville salesman Arch Kelley, Elijah’s father.
Conspicuously and intentionally absent from this special is Naomi, the chatty Judd. She’s seen but not heard from. Instead, viewers get Wynonna’s views on life, career, performing and the Judds.
Musically, the program focuses on songs from the singer’s third and brand-new solo album, “Revelations.” The new material is stronger performed in a made-for-TV concert than on the CD. Also included is the earlier solo hit, “No One Else on Earth.”
All told, this engaging show is less of a revelation than a declaration of independence.