Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Born 1915 – Deceased 1973

Crowned the Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe rattled conventions throughout the 1930s and ‘40s when she unabashedly exposed women to be soulful, gritty singers and passionate, well-practiced guitarists. At the tender age of six, Tharpe began performing throughout the south with her mother’s gospel evangelist troupe. After relocating to Chicago, it became apparent that Tharpe’s southern roots style began to absorb the chi-town blues sound, producing a unique and captivating quality to Tharpe’s music. Beyond being a female African American guitarist throughout a time of heavy racial prejudice, controversy arose in Tharpe’s career as she strove to perform for both religious and secular audiences, as well as when the news of her same-sex romantic relationships became public. Persevering beyond the many hurdles, Tharpe’s most celebrated songs are “Rock Me” and “Strange Things Happening Every Day,” which became the first gospel single to cross over onto the Billboard charts. A resurgence for Blues in the United Kingdom emerged in the 1960s, allotting Tharpe an opportunity at a long and prosperous career. Her influence over musicians such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton prove Tharpe’s strong and lasting impression on music, which recently led to her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Excerpt from article Ten “Ten of Blues Influential Artists”of Blues Influential Artists by Victoria Shaffer on Guitar Girl Magazine

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