Country Music Hall of Fame

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Brenda Lee: Dynamite

August 07, 2009 - June 13, 2010

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum honored one of American music's most gifted and beloved stars, Brenda Lee, in Brenda Lee: Dynamite, Presented by Great American Country Television Network, a biographical exhibit, which opened Friday, August 7, 2009, for a 10-month run in the Museum's East Gallery. The exhibit ran through June 13, 2010.

"Brenda Lee is one of the most versatile singers ever to record in Nashville, and the only female artist to be enshrined in both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "She possesses a powerful voice that belies her four-feet-nine-inches-tall frame, and her innate interpretive skills have allowed her to tackle many disparate musical genres with equal authority. She has sold millions of records worldwide and charted in multiple categories, including country, pop, R&B and easy listening. In doing so, Brenda Lee has transcended musical boundaries to earn the awards and respect of fans and peers worldwide.

"We are grateful to both Brenda and her husband, Ronnie Shacklett, for opening up their lives and home to us and allowing us to tell this extraordinary story."

Born Brenda Mae Tarpley on December 11, 1944, Lee achieved success in numerous genres, decades and continents during her ground-breaking career. Her indelible contributions to American music - from the rockabilly-infused "Dynamite" to the classic ballad "I'm Sorry" and the holiday standard "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" - were acknowledged formally with her inductions into both the Country and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.

Employing a wealth of splendid stage costumes, vintage photos, awards, posters and advertisements, personal correspondence, career-spanning audio and video and more, Brenda Lee: Dynamite explored the life and impact of the preternaturally gifted young singer who stormed onto the music scene with a powerful voice that would dominate rock & roll and country music charts for nearly three decades.

Notable artifacts featured in the exhibit included the following:

  • "Brenda Lee's Life Story" comic book, published by Dell in 1962
  • "Brenda Lee...The Paper Doll" set with miniature LPs and turntable, c. 1964
  • Black gown with lace and sequin overlay and velvet ribbon trim, worn onstage by Lee in the 1960s
  • Certificate presented to Lee to commemorate her November 2, 1964, performance for Queen Elizabeth II
  •  Lillie Rubin empire-waisted brocade evening dress with matching floor-length coat encrusted with pearls, bugle beads and rhinestones and trimmed with a fur collar and cuffs, worn by Lee onstage c. 1970
  • "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" diorama featuring Lee in front of a hearth, surrounded by a Christmas tree and other holiday decorations
  • A pair of Swarovski crystal-monogrammed sunglasses and a letter of congratulations given to Lee by her friend Sir Elton John
  • Numerous awards, including the plaque and medallion commemorating Lee's 1997 election to the Country Music Hall of Fame; Lee's 2002 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame statuette; and Lee's 2009 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award