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Brenda Lee

One of the biggest pop stars of the early '60s, Brenda Lee hasn't attracted as much critical respect as she deserves. She is sometimes inaccurately characterized as one of the few female teen idols. More crucially, the credit for achieving success with pop-country crossovers usually goes to Patsy Cline, although Lee's efforts in this era were arguably of equal importance. While she made few recordings of note after the mid-'60s, the best of her first decade is fine indeed, encompassing not just the pop ballads that were her biggest hits, but straight country and some surprisingly fierce rockabilly.

Lee was a child prodigy, appearing on national television by the age of ten, and making her first recordings for Decca the following year (1956). Her first few Decca singles, in fact, make a pretty fair bid for the best preteen rock & roll performances this side of Michael Jackson. "BIGELOW 6-200," "Dynamite," and "Little Jonah" are all exceptionally powerful rockabilly performances, with robust vocals and white-hot backing from the cream of Nashville's session musicians (including Owen Bradley, Grady Martin, Hank Garland, and Floyd Cramer). Lee would not have her first big hits until 1960, when she tempered the rockabilly with teen idol pop on "Sweet Nothin's," which went to the Top Five.

The comparison between Lee and Cline is to be expected, given that both singers were produced by Owen Bradley in the early '60s. Naturally, many of the same session musicians and backup vocalists were employed. Brenda, however, had a bigger in with the pop audience, not just because she was still a teenager, but because her material was more pop than Cline's, and not as country. Between 1960 and 1962, she had a stunning series of huge hits: "I'm Sorry," "I Want to Be Wanted," "Emotions," "You Can Depend on Me," "Dum Dum," "Fool #1," "Break It to Me Gently," and "All Alone Am I" all made the Top Ten. Their crossover appeal is no mystery. While these were ballads, they were delivered with enough lovesick yearning to appeal to adolescents, and enough maturity for the adults. The first-class melodic songwriting and professional orchestral production guaranteed that they would not be ghettoized in the country market.

Lee's last Top Ten pop hit was in 1963, with "Losing You." While she still had hits through the mid-'60s, these became smaller and less frequent with the rise of the British Invasion (although she remained very popular overseas). The best of her later hits, "Is It True?," was a surprisingly hard-rocking performance, recorded in 1964 in London with Jimmy Page on guitar. 1966's "Coming on Strong," however, would prove to be her last Top 20 entry.

In the early '70s, Lee reunited with Owen Bradley and, like so many early white rock & roll stars, returned to country music. For a time she was fairly successful in this field, making the country Top Ten half-a-dozen times in 1973-1974. Although she remained active as a recording and touring artist, for the last couple of decades she's been little more than a living legend, directing her intermittent artistic efforts to the country audience. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Brenda lee...all alone am I ...
My sweet husband always liked Brenda Lee and he passed away in 2012 so to hear her sing gives me sweet memories.
Iwantsweetno t h i n g b r e a n d a l e e
She sure best
golden1086
She made my life mean something:)
She retired years ago which was a sad time in the lives of people who loved her music
she and patsy are my cousins
She started recording in GRAMMAR school! Her Autobiograph y is incredible! Patsy Cline came out of the same stable at Decca and got lots of credit that really should have gone to Brenda.
frog_catcher _ g u y
she could take you from sadness to laughing in two songs, she knew my heart could not stay broken.
I am not lost in the 50's, 60's or the 70's. I am kinda lost in the heavy metal music today!
mazda161
no religious songs
Few vocalists, male or female, ever delivered such an enormous long list of brilliant recordings as this passionate genius.
buttercuptuc k e r , y o u are not lost.only in a better place & time.
Most people doesn't realize that beautiful sound was coming from the mouth A (10)year old. Don't get any better than this
ittlle Miss Dynomite nobody can ever take her place.What a voice
Brenda Lee is one of my favorite singers. I love her voice and she has much more tanlent than she gets credit for. A funny thing is my ex husband said when I sing I sound just like her. What a compliment. She is just wonderful I only place one person higher and it's Loretta Lynn. I'm 47 and my family and friends say i'm lost in the 50's and 60's music and tv. lol
Nancy Tucker
An underappreci a t e d talent.
dlc
Have 35 albums of hers and treasure them all! Have seen her many times in concert and have driven 8 hours to see her. One of my favorits is Rusty Bells though not popular..... . b e a u t i f u l ! ! What a treasure this little lady is.
I must also state that Brenda Lee and her unique sound is very much a part of my musical life. Love it that I sound just like her. Great!
Brenda Lee has a unique sound that has become a part of who I am.
Break It To Me Gently: Brenda owns this song!
This song is actually Jesus is Calling - Not When the Roll is Called Up Yonder.
Brenda Lee owns. I don't have anything intelligent to say. BRENDA LEE OWNS
thehiebertco
The bio doesn't mention my favorite Brenda Lee song, That's All You Gotta Do. It was a lesser hit, but what a rocker! I would love to have been a fly on the wall during that recording session. How those vocals could come out of a young girl like that I'll never know.
spivey.joe
I saw her in concert at Moonlight Gardens in Cincinnati in 1967. It was an outdoor night club on a hot July night. Despite the heat, she strutted across the stage in a long satin coat-dress and knocked us all dead for 3 hours straight. What a trouper! I fell in love with her that night and no one else will ever do.
jhhamilton2
not sure whats up but have yet to hear a Brenda Lee tune on this channel
I Love All Of Brenda Lee Songs.
I have SEEN some really weird comparisons by pandora. BUT ALAN JACKSON, GARTH BROOKS, TIM MCGRAW, WHAT THE HELL BILLY CURRINGTON?? ? ? NONE OF THOSE GUYS COULD LACE HER SHOES.
Amazing voice, amazing lady.
Her song--"I'm Sorry" --was a young lovers lament--I speak from from the heart !!!
tomdooley770
I was ten years old when I first heard this very talented little girl. She sang from way down from the soul, and only improved from there.
Ahh what memories.
What a gracious, incredibly talented lady. Growing up in Nashville, my family was fortunate enough to have known hers, and our admiration over the decades goes beyond her considerable creative genius. Thank you Brenda Lee for enriching so many lives.
t_heath
She could really sing right from the heart!!
I never really listened to her before today, and I really like her voice. It's got a cool raspy sound. I can't help but notice how close to Neil Sedaka she sounds.
timberline20 0 0
Saw Brenda Lee at the Hollywood Bowl some where in the very early 60's.. along with jimmy Dean and the letterman.. Never forget that night.She was great.

greatness come in small packages
I have always thought of Brenda Lee as my insperatioal tool to and for my love for my gift of appresition for all types of music and artist ! ! ! MANY THANKS TO HER FROM ME
Great artist with an excellant voice! Her music will live forever!
druasmith
Why does her Pandora station suck so bad? I know she did country western, but she did GOOD country western. It's an insult to imply that Lee's work bears any resemblance to Toby Keith's.
I WAS GRADUATED IN 57, BRENDA WAS GREAT THEN AND STILL "MOVES" ME. I STILL HAVE AND PLAY HER ALBUMS...LOV E HER VERSION OF "END OF THE WORLD" TOO.
SHE USED TO COME TO INDY AT CHRISTMAS FOR SPECIALS AT A LOCAL THEATER.
I HOPE SHE TRIVES FOREVER...LO V E HER.
I just love her voice. Such a voice to come from such a small person.

Judy Burton
Grew up with Brenda Lee. What a voice! she made a song called
"We Three" back in the '60s' hope I hear it sometime.... . : - )
Brenda Lee was oops is really great! Had many of her albums; brings back those loving memories lost due to failure of outdated machinery and death of my greatest love!!!
i love brenda lee but i really love the original sound track of her not the millenniun
i like all country thanks a lot
she is a fire carcker and one of the greats!!!
lkj956
Try to find Brenda Lee's version of "One Step at a Time"..my boy, just one step at a time. lkj

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