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Brenda Lee: A Doyenne of Music Celebrates 65 Years with a Billboard Hot 100 Success


Brenda Lee, Musical Artist

The music business is constantly changing, so not many artists leave a mark that lasts for decades. Brenda Lee, often referred to as "Little Miss Dynamite," not only embodies the spirit of a doyenne in the world of music but has recently achieved a remarkable history—her timeless holiday classic, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," reaching the coveted No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, 65 years after she first recorded it at the age of 13.

The first thing that got Brenda Lee interested in singing was a shocking performance she gave when she was very young. After her performance, it was incredible how quickly Lee rose to fame. At age five, she won a school talent show, and by age six, she was a professional artist. While she was still performing on local TV and radio shows, a show director suggested she change her name to Brenda Lee, even though her real name is Brenda Mae Tarpley.

Lee signed with Decca Records in May 1956, and by 1958, she recorded the iconic "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." However, her impact on the music industry extends far beyond this holiday classic. With hits like "I Want to Be Wanted," "Sweet Nothin's," and "Fool No. 1," Lee became a music legend and a member of both the Rock & Roll and Country Music Hall of Fame.

Her ability to navigate and excel in multiple genres, including pop and country music, showcases not only her versatility but also her enduring influence. Lee's career, which spans more than six decades, reflects her status as a doyenne—a woman who commands respect and prominence in her field.

 “I’m so humbled [that] people still love the song. Honestly, I have no words.”

In a surprising turn of events, "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" achieved its highest peak on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2023, securing the No. 1 spot. The song, recorded in 1958, has remained a holiday favorite, gaining new life with a resurgence in popularity after its feature in the 1990 film Home Alone.

This achievement not only marks Lee's third No. 1 hit but also establishes her as the oldest woman, at 78 years old, to top the Hot 100—a record previously held by Cher and Mariah Carey. The 65-year gap between her first No. 1 hit, "I'm Sorry" in 1960, and this recent triumph sets a record for the longest span between an artist's first and most recent No. 1.


Lee's enduring success is a testament to her talent, resilience, and the timeless quality of her music. Her ability to connect with audiences across generations is a rare skill, and her recent chart-topping achievement further cements her status as a doyenne of the music industry.

As Brenda Lee continues to enjoy the 65th anniversary of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," her recent success on the charts adds another chapter to her long and successful career. A doyenne in every sense, Brenda Lee's impact on the music world goes beyond accolades and records—it's a legacy that resonates with the magic of her voice and the timelessness of her music. As a doyenne, she continues to "Keep on rockin'" and wishes everyone who is still enchanted by her songs a Merry Christmas.


Want to learn about how the Doyenne Initiative supports strong women? Visit our About Us page to learn more.

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