The Unparelled Sister Rosetta Tharpe

For those who have never heard of, or seen Sister Rosetta Tharpe, welcome to your baptism by fire. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is the first superstar of gospel, known as “the original soul sister,” and ever since her life was tragically cut short at the too young age of 58, her feats and persona have never been topped, let alone repeated. Rosetta was a landmark figure in the history of gospel, blues, and popular music, as she was the first person to dare and combine secular music styles of rhythm and blues with gospel music and lyrics. She was a mean guitar player too, one of the most overlooked pioneers of rock guitar, peeling off dozens of incredible Chuck Berry like licks before there was a Chuck Berry. Her influence was powerful, extending to legends like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. For Little Richard, who is often referred to as the Father of Rock and Roll, Sister Rosetta was a childhood favorite. He saw her perform at the Macon City Auditorium in 1945, and the 15 year old Little Richard was lucky enough to be invited on stage to sing with her. According to legend, she paid him after the show. Johnny Cash also identified Rosetta as his favorite singer, and made a point of mentioning her as a childhood favorite in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction speech. For all her acclaim an notoriety, she died in obscurity, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia. Her lost reputation was later rectified by people who never forgot her thunderous ability and unforgettable stage presence. Below I have a video of Rosetta performing “Didn’t it Rain,” and “Joshua.” I first heard “Didn’t it Rain” off the Bob Dylan radio show. The recorded version is a spectacular thing featuring dueling Rosetta vocal takes harmonizing and flying all over the place and just incredible guitar overdubs. The live version is understandably more raw, but just as good. I’ll let you judge for yourself.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Awesome Thoughts Go Here