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Roger Smith

Actress lends voice to Doughboys album

Ann-Margret played a sexy delinquent in the 1964 movie Kitten with a Whip and a voluptuous neighbor in the 1993 film Grumpy Old Men.

These days, the 60-year-old Swedish native is on a national tour as the madam in the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Through the years, Art Greenhaw of Mesquite - the deep-voiced singer for the Fort Worth western swing band The Light Crust Doughboys - says he "just always saw a spiritual quality coming through" in Ann-Margret.

So he called her manager this year to suggest that the Doughboys team up with the husky-voiced entertainer on a Southern/country gospel album. Ann-Margret agreed. And the result - God Is Love: The Gospel Sessions - will hit record stores soon.

A release party and concert by the Doughboys - pioneers of western swing and three-time Grammy nominees - will be today at Pocket Sandwich Theatre in Dallas. Ann-Margret, on tour, will not attend and could not be reached to comment.

Greenhaw, 47, said he got a crush on Ann-Margret when he was 10 and he saw her in the Elvis Presley film Viva Las Vegas. In the decades since, she has gained his admiration for her spunky comeback after her 22-foot fall from a stage platform in 1972 and her devotion to Roger Smith, her husband of 34 years, during his struggle with a muscle disorder.

"I followed her movies and am a big fan of her singing voice, but I always thought she was underrepresented for the quality and emotion and everything that the wonderful silky voice represents," Greenhaw said. "It turns out this was the right thing at the right time."

Ann-Margret sings lead on six Greenhaw-penned numbers, among them Looking Through a Stained Glass Darkly, Keep Looking Up and Carry My Boat. She joined Greenhaw to yodel on the number Hallelujah Yodel Lady.

James Blackwood and the Jordanaires, who sang backup for Elvis, also perform on the 12-melody album. The album was recorded in the Metroplex, Houston, Los Angeles and Nashville.

"Ann-Margret put so much of her heart and soul and strength and mind into this," Greenhaw said. "The normally jaded engineers in the studio had tears in their eyes."

His notion initially raised the eyebrows of some of the band's five members.

But "Art tries different approaches," said band keyboardist Bill Simmons, 77, of Irving.

"This is one of the best ones," Simmons said. "It's really cool."

The Doughboys, formed in 1931, has none of its original members. But some - among them Simmons and Euless violinist John Walden - have been in the band since the 1950s. The band has been nominated three times during the past four years for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album.

Irving sound engineer Phil York, who did the final mastering on the latest gospel album, expects it will snare a Grammy.

"When Art first asked, 'What do you think about us working with Ann-Margret?', I was kind of flabbergasted," he said. "But she evokes so much emotion. I was just amazed."

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By TERRY LEE GOODRICH

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