Sister Rosetta Tharpe: “The Original Soul Sister” and “The Godmother of Rock and Roll”


2__publicity_photo_of_srt_taken_in_1938_by_james_j_kriegsmann                                                    Sister_Rosetta_Tharpe

Born: Rosetta Nubin on March 20, 1915 in Cotton Plant, Arkansas

Parents: Katie Bell Nubin (singer, mandolin player, and evagelist) and Willis Atkins (singer)

Siblings: unknown

Spouse: Thomas Tharpe (Preacher, m. 1934-1938), Russell Morrison (m. July 3, 1951)

Children: 0

Accomplishments, Achievements, and Contributions: Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and recording artist. She became popular in the 1930s and 1940s with her unique style mixing gospel spiritual lyrics with  rythamic rock ‘n’ roll. She was gospel music’s first crossover artist and the greatest recording star. She influenced Elvis, Chuck Berry, Tina Turner, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. She pushed spiritual music within the mainstream performing in nightclubs with big bands and pioneered the rise of pop gospel with her 1939 hit ‘This Train.’ She offered some of her conservative Christian fans a taste of pop, yet she never left gospel. She has also influence more modern gospel  artist such as Ira Tucker, Sr. of the Dixie Hummingbirds. According to wikipedia:

Tharpe’s 1944 hit “Down By The Riverside” was selected for the American Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2004, with the citation stating that it captured her “spirited guitar playing” and “unique vocal style”, which were an influence on early rhythm and blues performers, as well as gospel, jazz, and rock artists.[7](“Down By The Riverside” was actually recorded by Tharpe on December 2, 1948, in New York City, and issued as Decca single #48106.[8]) Her 1945 hit “Strange Things Happening Every Day“, recorded in late 1944, featured Tharpe’s vocals and electric guitar, with Sammy Price (piano), bass and drums. It was the first gospel record tocross over, hitting no. 2 on the Billboardrace records” chart, the term then used for what later became the R&B chart, in April 1945.[9][10] The recording has been cited as an important precursor of rock and roll.[6] Tharpe has been called the Godmother of Rock n’ Roll.


“All this new stuff they call rock ’n’ roll, why, I’ve been playing that for years now… Ninety percent of rock-and-roll artists came out of the church, their foundation is the church.”

—Sister Rosetta Tharpe in an interview with Daily Mirror in 1957

Awards and Honors: Posthumously, Inducted in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, the United States Postal Service issue Sister Tharpe with a 32-cent commemorative stamp on July 15, 1998, January 11 is Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day in Pennsylvania, In 2008, a concert was held to purchase her a gravestone and put in place later that year. In 2008, a historical marker was placed at her home in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Yorktown. Her story has been featured on PBS’s American Masters and on March 20, 2015 BBC Four aired an hour long documentary by  Mick Csaky, The Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll:Sister Rosetta Tharpe 

Death: October 9, 1973 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania of stroke

I Salute this AMAZING HER-story making sista!




2 thoughts on “Sister Rosetta Tharpe: “The Original Soul Sister” and “The Godmother of Rock and Roll”

    1. She sure was. I didn’t know she existed either until one of my black female bloggers wrote a post about her. She should be widely known; a major influence to music!

      Liked by 1 person

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