Ketty Lester was born in Hope, Arkansas, one of a family of 15 children, and first sang in her church and school choirs. In the early 1950s she began performing at San Francisco's Purple Onion club. She later toured Europe as a singer with Cab Calloway's orchestra and with the Everly Brothers.
Lester's recording of ‘Love Letters’, which featured Lincoln Mayorga's sparse piano arrangement and Earl Palmer on drums, rose to #5 in the Billboard Hot 100 early in 1962. The record also reached # 4 in the UK Singles Chart, selling over one million copies in all.