Brenda Lee was born Brenda Mae Tarpley in 1944 in Lithonia, Georgia. In 1949 she began as a child prodigy on the radio in Conyers, Georgia and has been singing professionally since age six. She began a three-year stint on the TV program Ozark Jubilee [later called Jubilee USA] in 1955 and signed with Decca Records the following year. She appeared on television shows in the 50's such as Perry Como, Steve Allen, and Jack Good's Oh Boy in the United Kingdom. She had some minor hits on the Country & Western charts in the 50's including One Step at a Time and Dynamite. She soon picked up the name of Little Miss Dynamite.
Brenda Lee was one of the most successful singers of the 60's. The song that enabled her to break through in a big way from C&W to pop was Sweet Nothin's, a top ten hit in 1960 and the first of twelve top ten pop songs she recorded in a four-year span. It was followed by two songs that reached #1 later in 1960 [before she reached her 16th birthday]-- I'm Sorry and I Want To Be Wanted.
She married Ronnie Shacklett, her childhood sweetheart, while still a teenager and they raised two daughters in Nashville, Jolie and Julie. The most successful artist to cross over from C&W to pop in the 60's, Brenda Lee was a small girl with a big voice. She continued to put pop songs in the top forty up until 1967, and by 1971 began to appear strictly as a country singer, which she is still doing today. She has had commercially successful songs on one chart or another nearly every year from 1956 up until the present. She has recorded many, many tunes and worked with many of the top country stars of the past and present.
Following is a list of the pop songs recorded by Brenda Lee in the 60's that reached the top ten:
With the writing assistance of Robert K. Oermann and Julie Clay, Brenda Lee issued her autobiography in 2002. The title, appropriately enough, was taken from a nickname that has stuck with Brenda for years: Little Miss Dynamite: The Life And Times Of Brenda Lee.
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