The Godmother Of Rock And Roll
Sep 10, 2015
Johnny Cash even took time out of his acceptance speech for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to sing Tharpe's praises:
"...there were also other stations that I listened to in Memphis. I listened to WHBQ, and they had a program on there called Red Hot and Blue, where they played back then what they called race music, and there I heard some of my earliest heroes - and it was at the Home of the Blues Record Shop where I bought my first recording of Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing those great gospel songs. And I can still see Sister Rosetta playing that Stella Guitar."
This video is from a 1964 performance in Manchester, England. Ironically it was raining as the band played "Didn't It Rain" but, as you can hear, the audience didn't mind. Her powerful voice and guitar licks cut through the weather and she delivered a legendary performance.
You may not have heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe before, but you've felt her influence. In 1945, she became the first gospel musician to have a crossover hit on the R&B chart. Tharpe's brand of stomping gospel and rock guitar resonated with audiences and earned her the nickname "the godmother of rock and roll." Legends like Little Richard, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley have all cited her as an influence, and if you listen to their albums, you can see her fingerprints all over them.