DADDY'S GIRL

For more than 20 years, Jeannie Kendall was best known as one-half of the duo The Kendalls with dad Royce. Sparked by Jeannie's soaring, sensuous vocals, The Kendalls scored such hits as the 1977 classic "Heaven's Just a Sin Away," "Sweet Desire," "Thank God for the Radio" and many more.

Since her teens, Jeannie had enjoyed the security of having her father by her side, both on and off stage. But when Royce died of a heart attack in May of 1998 -- as The Kendalls were recording a new album -- a distraught Jeannie was thrown into a world of uncertainty.

"It took a couple of years for me to figure out what to do," says Jeannie, her voice cracking with emotion. "I knew Daddy would want me to continue singing -- and I knew he would want our project finished."

Jeannie did finish the project and it became her first-ever solo album, simply titled Jeannie Kendall. She got plenty of all-star help from longtime fans like Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss.

"Alan had covered 'Thank God for the Radio' on one of his albums, but he chose to do a song called 'Timeless and True Love' with me," says Jeannie. "I feel so fortunate to have him and all these great singers on there."

She's also thankful that the album includes the duets she had completed with her father, "Train of Thought" and the poignant "I Wonder Where You Are Tonight." Jeannie says, "He would be proud of this record, because it sticks to our original plan, a total acoustic, bluegrass-oriented album."

The high point for The Kendalls came in 1978, when the duo earned a Grammy for "Heaven's Just a Sin Away." Jeannie remembers being rushed into a whirlwind of fame while still in her early twenties.

"It was like -- wow!" she says, smiling. "You know, 'Heaven' wasn't even intended as the main single off our record -- the radio stations just started playing it. Next thing we know, we're sitting at the Grammy awards and getting booked on all these TV shows.

"It was a true blessing," she adds. "But I wish I could go back and just enjoy it more, because it all seemed like a blur."

These days, Jeannie, now 48, lives a much slower pace in Arkansas with husband Mack Watkins, the lead guitarist in her band. But her tour schedule of concerts and bluegrass festivals is definitely heating up.

"I'll be all over the place this year," Jeannie declares. "So if you see my name -- come runnin'!"

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