Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Brenda Lee born 11 December 1944
Brenda Lee (born December 11, 1944) is an American country-pop singer, who was immensely popular during the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1960s she had more charted hits than any other woman, and only three male singers/groups (Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and The Beatles) outpaced her. She was one of the earliest pop stars to have a major contemporary international following.
Brenda Lee was born Brenda Mae Tarpley on December 11, 1944, in the charity ward of Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and was raised in Conyers and Lithonia. After winning a talent show at the age of five, she began to appear regularly on local Atlanta radio and television. When she was nine, her father died following a construction accident, and she became the family's primary breadwinner. In 1955 the family moved to Augusta, where the young singer shortened her last name to "Lee" at the suggestion of a local television producer.
Her big break came in 1956, when she joined country star Red Foley onstage at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta and belted out Hank Williams's "Jambalaya." Foley subsequently signed her to appear on his Ozark Jubilee, the first nationally televised country music show. Like Foley, millions of viewers were charmed by her precocious talent, and Lee became one of the first singers whose career was launched by television. (photo: Brenda with Elvis 1957)
She signed with Decca Records in 1956 and the following year moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she recorded such early rockabilly classics as "BIGELOW 6-200," "Little Jonah," and "Let's Jump the Broomstick." Her growling, hiccupping vocals on these songs seamlessly fuse country and rhythm and blues styles. "Rockin' around the Christmas Tree," first issued in 1958, is her best-known rockabilly recording, and it remains a holiday standard. Producer Owen Bradley, one of the creators of the "Nashville Sound," encouraged Lee to experiment with a variety of material, and this approach paid off in 1960 with the sultry song "Sweet Nothin's," which reached the top five in both the United States and Great Britain. Her signature song, "I'm Sorry," was released the same year and held the number one spot in the United States for three weeks.
The 1960s marked the peak of Lee's career. Aided by constant worldwide touring and multilingual recordings, she became one of the first performers to achieve global popularity, notably in Great Britain, Germany, and Japan. During this decade, her songs reached Billboard 's pop, country, rhythm and blues, and adult contemporary charts fifty-five times, making her the most successful female performer of that decade and placing her fourth overall in the decade behind Elvis, the Beatles, and Ray Charles.
Her remarkable ability to master different styles allowed Lee to adapt gracefully as she outgrew her teen idol status. A newly sophisticated stage act, emphasizing torchy ballads, won over both television and Las Vegas audiences. In the early 1970s she, like many other early rockers, adopted a country style.
Lee and her husband/manager, Ronnie Shacklett, have been married since the early 1960s. She is a member of both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the only female to be so honored. She was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1982. Brenda Lee has sold more than 100 million records, and she continues to perform.
Celebrating over 50 years as a recording artist, in September 2006 she was the second recipient of the Jo Meador- Walker Lifetime Achievement award by the Source Foundation in Nashville. In 1997, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame; and is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
In 2008, her recording of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" marked 50 years as a holiday standard, and in February 2009, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences gave Lee a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
(Info mainly from www.georgiaencyclopedia.org)
Here's a great clip of Brenda singing "All Alone Am I", from circa 1962.