Brenda was born in the charity ward of Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia to Grayce and Ruben Tarpley on December 11, 1944.
Before Brenda made a name for herself, her father was killed in a construction accident when a hammer was accidently dropped from a higher level and hit him. Brenda has a brother and 2 sisters. She graduated in 1963 from Hollywood High in California.
She met her husband Charles Ronnie Schacklett at a Jackie Wilson concert. They were married in April 1963. In 1964 Brenda gave birth to Julie and in 1969 she gave birth to Jolie. Brenda has two granddaughters and a grandson which she adores.
She lives in Nashville and is still making personal appearances. Her Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree is a favorite during the Christmas season.