Born Brenda Mae Tarpley in Georgia, her parents were poor and she began to work at an early age. She was entered into a singing contest at age three. Singing jobs followed. After her father was killed in an accident when she was eight, her singing skills helped the family to survive.
A local DJ changed her name to Brenda Lee.
When I think of Brenda Lee, I immediately think of one of my favorite Christmas songs - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. Listen to that voice - does it sound like someone who was only 13 years old?
This song was released both in 1958 and 1959, but did not become a hit right away. Not until 1960, that is. (My apologies if these songs aren't positioned correctly in the blog - I've been having trouble with that today).
One interesting piece of trivia about Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, is that it was written by a Jewish songwriter by the name of Johnny Marks, who also wrote a number of other Christmas songs. Before Christmas, I will run my annual post on Christmas songs written by Jews - there are a lot more than you might think.
Brenda Lee also covered a song first done by Bobby Helms, Jingle Bell Rock.
But Brenda Lee was far from a Christmas song singer. In 1960, she did a song that so many teenagers of the time could identify with - I'm Sorry.
Happy belated birthday, Brenda Lee.