Brenda Lee

2003 - Individual Artist

Little Miss Dynamite is the nickname given Brenda Lee. It is a most appropriate pseudonym because she may be short in stature but she can really belt out a song.

The most honored female performer of the past half-century, She was born Brenda Mae Tarpley in Atlanta, Georgia Dec. 11, 1944. Her first appearance before an audience came at the age of five. It was a talent contest and she won first prize.

Appearing in radio and on local television stations as a youngster, Brenda made the acquaintance of country music icon Red Foley. Through Foley, her first network television appearance came on March 31, 1956 at the tender age of 11. She signed her first recording contract with Decca Records that same year.

Brenda Lee first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville in December of 1957. There she met Elvis Presley and will always remember with fondness appearing on the show with him.

By 1958 she had recorded several well-received singles and an album. Little Miss Dynamite his the top ten charts in 1959 with “Sweet Nothin’s.” and her first gold record came one year later with “I’m Sorry.” She was also charting in Europe and was considered an international recording artist.

Another of her late 50’s recordings is now a Yuletide standard, heard year after year – “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.” It is #4 in the Top 10 All Time Christmas Songs.

Although still a teen, her first gold record and other hits brought her to Iowa touring all the ballroom venues of the 60s. She was a very popular entertainer then and still holds that status today as she returns to this state regularly to entertain.

During nearly half a century of entertaining she has become the most honored female entertainer of all time. Brenda Lee has sold over 100 million records, more than any other woman in musical history. She has more double-sided hits than any other woman in pop music and has charted in more categories than any other female artist.

Brenda has 29 gold records to her credit and has won every pop award except the Grammy although she has received four Grammy nominations. She has been awarded five Edisons from Holland, that nation’s Grammy.

In addition to radio and television, Little Miss Dynamite has appeared in plays and movies such as “Two Little Bears” and “Smokey and the Bandit 2”.

Brenda was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997, The Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1999 and the National Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Her induction into the Iowa RockNRoll Hall of Fame in 2003 is another and we are sure not the last of many much deserved awards for this music legend. She continues to entertain and her last performance in Iowa was just a few months ago in Osceola.


The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame & Museum exists to preserve the legacy of rock and roll music in Iowa by honoring achievements, educating youth and inspiring artists. Established in 1997, we are a501(c)(3) non-profit statewide organization with many areas of service.

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