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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Gospel Duets With Treasured Friends

1. This Old House

2. Have A Little Talk With Jesus

3. In The Garden

4. I Saw The Light

5. Jesus Loves Me

6. Precious Memories

8. This Little Light Of Mine

9. Unclouded Day

11. Oh! Happy Day

x

Track List: Greatest Country Songs

1. Fool Number One

2. End Of The World

3. Big Four Poster Bed

4. Nobody Wins

5. Johnny One Time

6. You Can Depend On Me

7. I Want To Be Wanted

8. Losing You

9. Too Many Rivers

10. Jambalaya

11. As Usual

x

Track List: Greatest Gospel Songs

1. This Little Light Of Mine

2. What A Friend We Have In Jesus

3. When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder

4. Have A Little Talk With Jesus

5. Amazing Grace

6. Just A Closer Walk With Thee

7. Softly And Tenderly

8. In The Garden

9. The Unclouded Day

10. The Old Rugged Cross

11. Precious Memories

12. Jesus Loves Me

x

Track List: 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Brenda Lee

1. I'm Sorry

2. Sweet Nothin's

3. I Want To Be Wanted (Per Tutta La Vita)

4. You Can Depend On Me

5. That's All You Gotta Do

6. Emotions

7. Break It To Me Gently

8. Dum Dum

9. Fool # 1

10. Everybody Loves Me But You

11. Losing You

12. All Alone Am I

x

Track List: Anthology 1956-1980

Disc 1

1. Jambalaya (On The Bayou)

2. Bigelow 6-200

3. One Step At A Time

4. Dynamite

6. Let's Jump The Broomstick

7. Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree

8. Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home

9. Sweet Nothin's

10. Weep No More My Baby

11. I Want To Be Wanted (Per Tutta La Vita)

12. That's All You Gotta Do

13. I'm Sorry

14. Emotions

15. If You Love Me (Really Love Me)

16. You Can Depend On Me

17. Kansas City

18. Dum Dum

19. Fool #1

20. So Deep

Disc 2

1. Break It To Me Gently

2. Everybody Loves Me But You

3. Heart In Hand

4. Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)

5. All Alone Am I

6. My Coloring Book

7. Losing You

8. I Wonder

9. The Grass Is Greener

10. My Whole World Is Falling Down

11. As Usual

12. Is It True?

13. Too Many Rivers

14. Coming On Strong

15. Johnny One Time

16. Nobody Wins

17. Big Four Poster Bed

18. Rock On Baby

19. Tell Me What It's Like

20. Broken Trust

Comments

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brenda lee and patsy cline are my cousins by marriage
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mmooppss
I grew up with Brenda Lee. I always loved her and thought of her like a sister and wished that she was.
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Shes that good. Im Sorry. With the anita kerr singers music back then had the best of people and talent to... make these song. That had all gone away.
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dragonlady60 8 8
I love this Song
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Saw Brenda Lee live in Birmingham England, and Boston brilliant.. Love my Pandora..
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Brenda I'm Still In Love!!! Love You
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deb5749
It's such a shame that the kids of today will never know the real joy in music that we had when growing up and the amazing singers of that era. Brenda Lee's voice is one in a million.
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Great songs keep lt up
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p_teeter
Thanks Brenda. Hope you are doing well. My daughter has a picture with you taken at the Fremont Hotel Las Vegas about 1970. She was eight. We cherish it.
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frankwiener
I was too young and stupid to appreciate Brenda Lee as I should have. I'm making up for lost time now.
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Thank You Brenda What A Voice .Good Times
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I love your song ��
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SO SORRY WE CAN 'T GO BACK TO THESE TIMES. TIMES WE WILL LEARN WERE OUR BEST........ . . . . . . . . . . . .
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Great singer..why didn't her music continue? Does anyone know of her today?
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I loved her music/voice but, this song went to my heart>
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Dreamy and heartfelt.
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shr kind of sounds like Dolly parton and also Dolly's sister, Stella parton. stella sounds like Dolly! yyou should liksten to her music
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dragonlady60 8 8
Excellent singer...tha n k s Brenda
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I grew up in the 60's, and was she really popular! I, along with so many others of my classmates, just loved her songs. Her voice is unique enough that you can tell when it is she who is singing 'that song.'
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Wow!!! What a voice
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lindaeeo
I spent many hours in my room listening to her records. I thought she was amazing.
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L
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mike3345mike
guts in the songs!!
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This is good music but not something that I had chosen to listen to wish they would play what I choose and mix it very little with the ones I don't choose
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I have never figured out why people compare Brenda Lee to Patsy Cline - there is absolutely no problem distinguishi n g one from the other! When she sings " I Want to Be Wanted ", I still feel that this song could never have been recorded by anyone else! Definitely my number 1 Brenda Lee song - her heart and soul make that song so amazing... Her voice was a gift from God.
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I'm sorry , sitting in my 55 Chevy with kitty, my first love , and who owns a piece of my heart , still R BEALS
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t_heath
I'm Sorry was one of her best!! What a great song.......
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Her voice and songs are both memorable and unmistakable . I grew up with her music in the 60's and remember being amazed the first time I saw her. Some show on black and white TV in the late 50's. Up to that point I thought she was an adult, but on that show I found she was only a couple years older than I, then about 10. Powerful voice and musical prowess. Thank you Brenda Lee for many enjoyable memories. And, thank you for making it possible for us to enjoy your music even now.
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My God, pass the tissues so I can dap the memories, not wipe them away, Brenda you tug at my heart strings..... GREAT SONG,All your songs are GREAT
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I cannot say enough about Pandora, they have a collection of music (obviously, traditional country and bluegrass are my favorite) but I get to hear songs that are so dear to me. Only Brenda Lee, can sing " I Want To Be Wanted "- my favorite, with her heart & soul!! Of course, I have a lot of favorite songs. Yet, there are those that make you pause and smile!
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I always thought "I'm Sorry" was such a beautiful and haunting melody! Still love that song.
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Getting back into the years.
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Got a minute ? There's a church that was built and they need monetary donations to help cover expenses , the church is Saint Patrick church - 1046 E. 34 th street Los Angeles California 90011 - (323) 232- 8756 ( 323) 234- 5963 - Pastor Rev. Timothy Dyer - Jesus is God :)
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ftmaza
She was one of my favorite 60's singer, sweet n lovely voice
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Brenda Lee was my favorite singer but I must say that I Loved the 60's music. You could understand the words that were sang. Sure wish I could go back to those years.
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Went to see her perform a Christmas show at Seneca Allegany Casino in 2012. She is truly amazing!
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So smooth
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one of the very best singers, ever!!
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pjtoal24
When I was 10 my sister bought me Brenda Lee record for me that was 1963! I got my first record player too for my birthday.
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Steven seagal moves
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Brenda lee...all alone am I ...
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My sweet husband always liked Brenda Lee and he passed away in 2012 so to hear her sing gives me sweet memories.
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lindawinton7 0
Iwantsweetno t h i n g b r e a n d a l e e
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She sure best
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golden1086
She made my life mean something:)
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She retired years ago which was a sad time in the lives of people who loved her music
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she and patsy are my cousins
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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.
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frog_catcher _ g u y
she could take you from sadness to laughing in two songs, she knew my heart could not stay broken.
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I am not lost in the 50's, 60's or the 70's. I am kinda lost in the heavy metal music today!
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