Country Music, Rock n Roll and Georgia Music Hall of Famer Brenda Lee was feted in high fashion Saturday night at the Fox Theatre’s Egyptian Ballroom. The occasion — Georgia Public Broadcasting threw a gala in the 74-year-old rock n roll pioneer’s honor as the first recipient of the GPB Georgia Legend Award.
The native Atlantan kicked off the evening with a 30-minute interview on stage with GPB TV host Bill Nigut in front of GPB supporters and Lee fans. Among them: former Georgia governor Nathan Deal, his wife Sandra and their daughter, singer Katie Deal, who also entertained the crowd with two sets of vintage country songs throughout the evening.
GPB also rolled a 15-minute sneak preview of Ken Burns’s upcoming 16-hour documentary “Country Music” in which Brenda Lee and her 60-year career play a significant role as a through-line interview to Nashville’s past and present. “Country Music” premieres Sunday at 8 pm on GPB.
In a video specifically shot for the gala, Burns appeared on TV screens in the ballroom to congratulate Lee and to thank her for participating in the mammoth project. Said Burns via video: “I wish I could be there to say this, ‘Brenda, we love you.'” In a video tribute produced by GPB for the evening, Lee’s good friends Pam Tillis and Trisha Yearwood congratulated her on the award.
To present the award to Lee, GPB CEO and President Teya Ryan wore a gorgeous red dress, complete with Nashville-inspired tassels.
But after her first trip to the podium, GPB staff scrambled to put a height-extending box back in the place in front of the podium for the 4-foot, nine-inch Little Miss Dynamite. Turns out, she had more to say.
Photos and videos shot for Eldredge ATL by Rich Eldredge
Come back to Eldredge ATL later this week when we’ll have an exclusive conversation with the rock n roll and country music icon as we discuss some of her most beloved recordings from a six-decade career.
Richard L. Eldredge is the founder and editor in chief of Eldredge ATL. As a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Atlanta magazine, he has covered Atlanta since 1990.