Today we are going to talk about a woman who invented what we know today as Rock and Roll and that woman name is Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Born as either Rosetta Nubin or Rosether Atkins in Cotton Plant, Arkansas on March 20, 1915. Her mother Katie Harper was a very active member of the Church Of God in Christ, and at the age of four she would sing and perform at the church with a guitar as Little Rosetta Nubin. Later on October 31, 1938, at the age of 23, she recorded her first gospel LP’s with Decca Records with such influential songs as Rock Me, That’s All, My Man and I, and The Lonesome Road.
It is said that That’s All influence the like of Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Aretha Franklin, George Melly, Isaac Hayes and The King himself Elvis Presley. Later she would perform with Cab Calloway at The Cotton Club in October of 1938 and then with John Hammond in December of the same year. Sadly these performances would make her an outcast in the gospel community.She would later record a song in 1944 on V-disk during WWII for overseas troops, which many citing that record and song as the very first Rock and Roll record and it was Strange Things Happen Every day.
In 1964 she joined a blues and gospel caravan that toured the UK and did a live TV concert at Wilbraham Road at Manchester in May of 1964 and started it off with the song Didn’t it Rain. As you can see everyone at the concert was invested and fell in love with her and her music. Because of this tour, she heavily influences the development of ‘British Blues’ and the likes of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. Sadly she passed away on October 9, 1973, at the age of 58 and had been forgotten over the years but once in awhile her name would be brought up in conversations or being thank for being the inspiration to another artist career, an example would be Johnny Cash, who said that she was his favorite artist of all time. Earlier this year when she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the category of Early Influences.
Many people have called her the ‘Godmother of Rock and Roll,’ while others like myself call her the forgotten mother of Rock and Roll. The way she played her Gibson guitar was completely different at the time, and it stood the test of time. She left the blueprint and so much more in not just in Rock and Roll, but in almost every single music genre that is around today. Sister Rosetta Tharpe not only did that, but she also help create generations worth of guitar players, both male and female and if she were alive to this day she would be very proud of every single one of them.