Lewis had dinner with Sharon Tate, an actress who was brutally murdered a few hours later along her four friends by Charles Manson's Family followers at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon.
In 1962, Lewis' released her first single the uptempo "My Heart Went Do Dat Da," which was a local hit in the Detroit, Michigan area.
She wrote all of the songs on her debut LP, including the hit "Hello Stranger" which reached #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, and featured extensive use of a Hammond organ and a bossa nova-like beat. The Dells.were the backup group on many songs from the album Hello Stranger – including the title cut.
Lewis had moderate follow-up hits with "Straighten Up Your Heart, " which reached #43, and her original "Puppy Love" which did slightly better . Then came the Bert Berns-produced million-seller "Baby I'm Yours" written by Van McCoy. It reached #11 in the U.S.
Berns also produced the followup "Make Me Your Baby" which also reached #11, and Lewis' final Top 40 hit "Make Me Belong to You."
At the end of the decade, she released a grittier-sounding album on Stax Records, and after its lack of commercial success, she began to withdraw from the music industry.
Other artists had success with Lewis' songs.
Her own composition "Hello Stranger"- which had been remade in 1966 by the Capitols – was a top 20 hit for Yvonne Elliman in 1977. In 1985 Carrie Lucas' remake of "Hello Stranger" was a Top 20 R&B hit and in 2004 Queen Latifah remade "Hello Stranger" for her The Dana Owens Album.
"Baby I'm Yours" charted in versions by country singer Jody Miller and Debby Boone. In Canada, Suzanne Stevens had a hit in 1975 with a disco version of "Make Me Your Baby."
In 1995, Lewis' "Baby I'm Yours" was featured on the soundtrack for the film, The Bridges of Madison County. She received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999.