Music

The Kendalls: Remembering The Father-Daughter Country Duo 

CIRCA 1970: Photo of Kendalls Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

It's not often that a parent-child duo makes it big in music. One of the most successful examples of this in country music is The Judds, made up of mother-daughter duo Naomi and Wynonna Judd. The other example is The Kendalls, a father-daughter duo composed of Royce Kendall and his daughter Jeannie Kendall. The duo were active in the genre from the 1970s to the 1990s and enjoyed a successful career with multiple country hits.

Royce Kendall was born in St. Louis and first formed a duo with his brother, Floyce Kendall. The two moved to California where they performed on the television show The Austin Brothers. Royce Kendall's first duo with his brother soon ended, and he and his wife Melba moved back to Missouri, where they had their daughter, Jeannie. Jeannie Kendall began showing musical talent in her childhood, and she and her father began singing together. By the time she was 15 years old in 1969, The Kendalls had recorded their first album, Meet The Kendalls, on Stop Records. The project included a cover of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane," which was released as a single. It landed at No. 52 on the country charts.

The Kendalls continued pushing on in their career, signing a record contract with Dot Records in 1972. They released their second album, Two Divided by Love, which produced two singles, "Two Divided By Love" (The Grass Roots cover) and "Everything I Own" (Bread cover). After those singles lacked radio success, the country music duo released a handful of other songs before signing with Ovation Records in 1977. The group released another album, Let the Music Play / Heaven's Just a Sin Away, from which they released the lead single, "Making Believe" (originally by Kitty Wells), which landed at No. 80. The group then released the album's second single, "Heaven's Just a Sin Away," which helped catapult them to stardom.

Written by Jerry Gillespie and released by The Kendalls in 1977, "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" was a cheating song that reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Country chart. It won the duo a Grammy award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group as well as the CMA Award for Single of the Year. From there, the duo kept their momentum going with hits from their Old Fashioned Love album, including "It Don't Feel Like Sinnin' to Me" (charted at No. 2), "Pittsburgh Stealers" (charted at No. 6), and "Sweet Desire" (became the duo's second No. 1). The group released three more albums with Ovation -- Just Like Real People, Heart of the Matter and The Best. These albums spawned more singles released in the late '70s and early '80s, including "You'd Make an Angel Wanna Cheat," Dolly Parton's "Put it Off Until Tomorrow" and more.

Read More: Remembering the Empowering Songs and Career of Mindy McCready

In 1981, The Kendalls moved to Mercury records where they released five more albums throughout the 1980s, earning a Top 10 hit with "Teach Me To Cheat" and their second and last No. 1 single with "Thank God for the Radio." In the late '80s, they released albums on MCA (Fire at First Sight), Step One (Break the Routine) and Epic Records (20 Favorites) and charted singles in the 50s and 60s. Their last charting single, "Blue Blue Day," landed at No. 69 in 1989.

In the 1990s, The Kendalls began regularly performing at their supper club in Gulf Shores, Ala.and in Branson, Mo. The father-daughter duo continued performing and releasing new music until Royce Kendall's death in 1988 from a stroke. After her father's death, Jeannie Kendall pursued a solo career, releasing a self-titled album on Rounder Records in 2003 which featured Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent. She released her second solo album, All The Girls I Am, in 2005.

These days, Jeannie has teamed up with Carl Acuff Jr. and the two have become "The Kendalls Rekindled." The two released an album titled You Got Me in 2020. Jeannie Kendall also continues to tour and has dates in Missouri lined up for August, September and October of 2021.

Related Videos

recommended for you

The Kendalls: Remembering The Father-Daughter Country Duo