Sign up for newsletter
 

Country Hall honors Brenda Lee with exhibit

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 – Brenda Lee was the original teen queen with a powerful voice that would dominate rock and country music charts for nearly three decades. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will pay tribute to Lee with the cameo exhibition "Brenda Lee: Dynamite, Presented by Great American Country Television Network," which opens Aug. 7 and will run through June 2010, t he hall announced Wednesday.

"Brenda Lee is one of the most versatile singers ever to record in Nashville, and the only female artist to be enshrined in both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "She possesses a powerful voice that belies her four-feet-nine-inches-tall frame, and her innate interpretive skills have allowed her to tackle many disparate musical genres with equal authority. She has sold millions of records worldwide and charted in multiple categories, including country, pop, R&B and easy listening. In doing so, Brenda Lee has transcended musical boundaries to earn the awards and respect of fans and peers worldwide."

Born Brenda Mae Tarpley on Dec. 11, 1944, the Atlanta native sang from the time she could talk and won her first talent show at the age of 4. She soon sang on local radio stations. In 1951, the youngster made her television debut, performing Hank Williams' Hey, Good Lookin' on Atlanta's TV Ranch program. On weekends, she supplemented her family's income by performing for tips at concerts with the show's house band, John Farmer & the TV Ranch Boys.

Following the untimely death of her father in a construction accident in 1953, Lee landed a much-needed paying gig on the Augusta, Ga. TV show Peach Blossom Special and, at the suggestion of the station's program director, shortened her name to Brenda Lee.

Lee's big break came in February 1956, when she auditioned for Red Foley and was invited to join the cast of ABC's Ozark Jubilee program. Three months later, Lee signed with Decca Records, an association that would last nearly 30 years. Her inaugural recording session took place that July, under the supervision of Owen Bradley, and included a rousing version of Jambalaya (on the Bayou). The two worked together for two decades.

Although 11 at the time, Lee's first two singles were released under the name "Little Brenda Lee (9 Years Old)." Neither record charted, but through appearances on network television - The Perry Como Show and The Steve Allen Show - she became known nationally. Her year ended with a three-week engagement at Las Vegas' Flamingo Hotel, where she became the youngest headliner ever in that entertainment oasis.

In March 1957, Lee's third single, One Step at a Time, cracked the country and pop charts. Red Foley's manager, Dub Allbritten, took control of Lee's career, tirelessly promoting the young star. Allbritten also became a father figure to her, and guided her career for the next 15 years. As Lee's popularity grew, Allbritten booked her on package tours with country stars such as Kitty Wells, Faron Young and Patsy Cline; she also appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in 1957 and 1958.

Lee also was interested in rockabilly music. In 1960, Lee scored her first pop Top Ten hit with Sweet Nothin's and followed it up with her number 1 smash I'm Sorry." Bradley added lush, orchestrated strings to the latter. The follow-up single, I Want to Be Wanted, also hit the top. She topped off the year with the re-release of her classic Christmas standard Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, originally recorded in 1958.

Throughout the 1960s Lee performed regularly in Europe, South America and Japan, at one point touring Germany with The Beatles as her opening act.

As her pop hits began to dwindle in the late 1960s, Lee felt out of place in the contemporary music scene. After brief recording forays in New York and Memphis (at Bradley's urging) failed to yield any hits, Lee returned to Bradley and in 1973 recorded Kris Kristofferson's Nobody Wins at Bradley's studio. While there was no intentional effort to transform her into a country artist, the record rose to number five on the country charts. Feeling at home with the music of her roots, Lee scored 8 more Top 10 country hits, including Big Four Poster Bed (1974) and Broken Trust (1980).

In 1982, Lee collaborated with Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton on the Top Five Billboard country album "The Winning Hand." Three years later, Lee's duet with George Jones, Hallelujah, I Love You So, yielded another chart hit. At decade's end, Lee reunited with Bradley to record the Grammy-nominated Honky Tonk Angels Medley with k.d. lang, Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells for lang's "Shadowland."

In 1997, Lee was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2002, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and that same year bowed her autobiography, Little Miss Dynamite: The Life and Times of Brenda Lee, co-written with Robert K. Oermann and Lee's daughter Julie Clay. In February, Lee received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for her creative contributions to the field of recording.

More news for Brenda Lee

Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Jinks wins over fans, especially new ones – Cody Jinks asked the crowd a bit into his show how many had never seen him before. It seemed like Jinks has made a lot of musical inroads into the public's consciousness because roughly three quarters of the audience raised their hands to show that this was their first time. That probably made Jinks feel pretty darn good about how life has been... »»»
Concert Review: Fogerty lives up to his past – Woodstock 50 may never have happened, but that original monumental event was certainly in the air at John Fogerty's My 50 Year Trip Tour before, during and after. The before and after was in the choice of songs that came over the speakers including everything from Jefferson Airplane's "Don't You Want Somebody to Love" to The... »»»
Follow Country Standard Time  Subscribe to Country News Digest  Follow Country Standard Time on twitter  Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook 

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Chip Kinman celebrates brother, career on "Sounds Like Music" For a brief moment last summer, the news of Tony Kinman's death was, if not greatly exaggerated, then at least fortuitously premature. The roots rock icon, known for his work in The Dils, Rank and File, Blackbird and Cowboy Nation with his younger brother Chip, had been diagnosed with cancer in March 2018,... »»»
Shiflett learns "Hard Lessons" Until recently, Chris Shiflett took a somewhat obsessive/compulsive approach to his music career. For the past two decades, Shiflett has been the primary guitar foil for Dave Grohl in Foo Fighters; early in his tenure, Shiflett was so self-deprecatingly... »»»
White embraces "The Hurting Kind" John Paul White, to paraphrase a Steve Earle song, may just be one of the last of the hardcore troubadours. By 'troubadour,' we mean one of those guys that lives to write great songs - more specifically, great country songs - and then get these songs into the ears of folks that... »»»
Bingham gets personal with "American Love Song"...again A lot of the early reviews for "American Love Song," Ryan Bingham's latest set of raucous and reflective Americana brilliance, have characterized it as the singer/ songwriter's most personal album to date.... »»»
Wilson goes her own way After having huge success at the get go with "Redneck Woman," Wilson eventually went her own way and took a break. During her "hiatus," Wilson started her own label and was a "120 percent mom" to her teenage daughter.... »»»
Carll tells it like it is A visit with Hayes Carll finds him taking a rare day off at home to discuss new album "What It Is" co-produced by Brad Jones and Carll's girlfriend, Allison Moorer. "This album works around three themes; our relationship (he and Moorer), the world and myself.... »»»
Watson gets "Lucky" Dale (The Real Deal) Watson has been releasing hard country albums since 1995 and shows no signs of slowing down on his most recent release, "Call Me Lucky." This record marks his third effort recorded in Memphis, at Sam Phillips Recording Studio, with Watson's regular touring band, The Lone Stars.... »»»
New Moon Over My Shoulder CD review - New Moon Over My Shoulder
Larry Sparks was still a teenager when Ralph Stanley chose him to replace his brother Carter Stanley as guitarist and lead singer in the Clinch Mountain Boys in the wake of Carter's passing in December 1966. »»»
Chronicle: Friends and Music CD review - Chronicle: Friends and Music
The third solo album from a member of Sister Sadie to be released in 2019, "Chronicle: Friends and Music" (following those of Deanie Richardson and Dale Ann Bradley) reflects the breadth of modern bluegrass: energetic and intense, »»»
Blue Roses CD review - Blue Roses

Runaway June - Naomi Cooke, Hannah Mulholland and Jennifer Wayne - weave gorgeous harmonies around the lyrics of these songs on their new album, all but four of which they wrote with other writers. »»»

From Another World CD review - From Another World
Following the passing of the late, great James Brown, there are those that have argued that Jim Lauderdale rightfully deserves to inherit the title of the hardest working man in show business. And for good reason. »»»
Breakdown on 20th Ave. South
"Breakdown on 20th Ave. South is significant in a number of ways. For starters, it marks Julie Miller's return to making music after an absence of 10 years. For another, it finds her collaborating once again with her ever prolific  »»»
Ride Me Back Home CD review - Ride Me Back Home
Time may be an enemy to most, but Willie Nelson seems a bit impervious to its ravages - a fact made evident on "Ride Me Back Home," a relaxed affair that showcases Nelson's still-strong voice and his sharp-as-ever songwriting and interpreting abilities. »»»