Both of my kids have many talents and I’ve always been very proud of them, but I don’t remember either of them ever doing much singing. To take it a step further, I also don’t remember ever singing a duet with either of them. But that’s not true in all families, which helps explain how the Kendalls reached country music stardom in the 1970s with their Grammy-winning “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away.”
Country music has always been fertile ground for musical families to perform in configurations that might include everything from large groups to duets. But it is a little unusual for a father and daughter to find the kind of success enjoyed by Royce and Jeannie Kendall. Their blend of country pop, featuring Jeannie as the lead singer with Royce adding vocal and instrumental support, proved to be very popular with fans.
St. Louis native Royce was working in country music groups as far back as the 1950s, but eventually dialed back on the music and spent a number of years supporting his family as a barber. However, he taught daughter Jeannie to sing while she was growing up, and by her mid-teens she had joined her dad in a family singing act that soon turned professional.
The early years were a struggle for the twosome but they did sell some records, and after moving to Nashville they gradually began to find some career traction. That culminated in 1977’s “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away,” which rose to the top of the charts and paved the way for a number of subsequent hits. Over the next decade the Kendalls would chart with songs like “It Don’t Feel Like Sinning To Me,” “Old-Fashioned Love,” “Sweet Desire,” and others.
The duo’s last big seller was “Thank God for the Radio,” which topped the charts in 1984, but they continued to generate moderately successful records for the next decade, during which they also made some well-received appearances in Branson. Sadly, Royce Kendall died in 1998, but Jeannie continued working as a solo and in recent years has released a couple of albums of her own.
The Kendalls – “Heaven’s Just a Sin Away”