The Rock n’ Roll Life Of Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - joantgv1 / Youtube
The decades-long debate about whoever created rock n’ roll has become such a branched-out topic that it’s hard to trace who really did it first. But if one thing’s for sure, it’s that Sister Rosetta Tharpe helped shape the sound of the genre.
She was born in Arkansas in 1915 and grew under her mother’s care, who was also a musician and evangelist preacher in the Church of God in Christ, which allowed women to preach, as well as incorporate musical expression in their worship services. She became quite an act to behold in the church and soon moved to New York where she was scouted by John Hammond, signing her into Decca Records. After some bold secular numbers and recordings, her 1945 record of “Strange Things Are Happening” marked her venture into rock n’ roll territory.
But what was really striking about Sister Rosetta Tharpe beyond her recordings was her onstage persona. She was the epitome of a true-blue rock artist, complete with her Gibson SG in hand, oozing in confidence and sex appeal, and that coveted voice that heralded everything liberated and free in her performances. Truly, she was a trailblazer in the flesh and spirit of rock n’ roll music. Even in her death, the people held her in high regard. Her epitaph read, “She would sing until you cried and then she would sing until you danced for joy. She helped to keep the church alive and the saints rejoicing.”