Sixty-three years after the legendary pop diva and rockabilly singer Brenda Lee released “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” the classic Christmas chestnut is still serving a-rockin’ Merry Christmas. And on top of that, last holiday season, the song also topped at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — right behind Adele’s “Easy on Me” and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” But if there was anything even more fascinating than the song’s accomplishment was that Brenda was just 13 when she recorded it.
Now, Brenda is 77 but… where is she? Let’s find out.
Who is Brenda Lee?
Brenda Lee, known as Brenda Mae Tarpley in real life, was born on December 11, 1944, in Atlanta, Georgia. Standing at 4-foot-9-inches tall, Brenda was a dainty little woman but don’t be fooled. She was a force to be reckoned with.
Brenda started her music career at 10, appearing on the popular country music TV show “TV Ranch,” and by 12, she released her song “Dynamite.” The explosive strength that poured out of her small frame amazed not only the audience but promoters as well. Soon enough, she earned herself the nickname ‘Little Miss Dynamite.’ Then at 13, she recorded the now-iconic “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” written by Johnny Marks (also known for his other great Christmas standards like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “A Holly Jolly Christmas”).
She reached her golden era during the 1960s, charting 47 hits in the US — more than any other woman of her time and outpaced by only three male artists namely Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and The Beatles. Aside from that, she was also one of the earliest pop stars who have earned a major contemporary international following.
By the early 1970s, Brenda re-established herself and went back to her roots as a country music artist. She then continued to earn a string of Top 10 hits, including “Nobody Wins” in 1973, “Wrong Ideas” and “Big Four Poster Bed” in 1974, “Rock On Baby” and “He’s My Rock” in 1975, and “Tell Me What It’s Like” in 1979. In the next years, she continued to record and perform across the globe.
Her accomplishments in the music industry were irrefutable, and eventually, she got inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame. And she is the only woman (yet) to achieve this feat. She also received the Jo Meador-Walker Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
Where is Brenda Lee now?
After decades of living in the music, Brenda Lee is now happily retired and spending quality time with her husband Ronnie Shacklett, two daughters Jolie and Julie, and three grandchildren, Taylor, Jordan, and Charley, in Nashville, Tennessee.
In an interview with the New York Post, Brenda shared that she still sings. At Christmas events, she would sing a little bit of “Rockin'” and even go caroling.
What is her net worth?
With over five decades of a music career and an impressive list of hit songs, Brenda Lee was able to amass a multi-million dollar fortune. As of 2021, her net worth is estimated at $20 million.