lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

T is for Sister Rosetta Tharpe #A-Z Blog Challenge

Sister Rosetta Tharpe – AMAZING!

She was born Rosetta Nubin on a cotton plant in Arkansas, on the 20th of March, 1915, and died in Philadelphia after a long career as a musician, in 1973. Her parents were cotton pickers. Little is known about her father except he was a singer – her mother also was a singer and mandolin player, evangelist, and preacher for the Church of God in Christ, a church that encouraged musical expression.

Rosetta soon began playing the guitar and singing, and by age six was touring with her mother in an evangelical troupe.

By the mid 20s, she and her mother had moved to Chicago, performing religious concerts and also travelling to perform at events all over the country.

Rosetta became famous as a musical prodigy. Black, female guitarists were rare.

When she was 19 she married  Thomas Thorpe, a COGIC preacher, who accompanied her and her mother on their tours, but the marriage did not last – however she kept the name ‘Tharpe’ for her stage name, Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

She had a unique style, a mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that was a prelude to rock and roll… she has been referred to as the original ‘soul sister’ and influenced such greats as Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Jerry-Lee Lewis.

The video above was taken when she visited Manchester, England in 1964 – I chose this recording because it’s a song I have sung in choir. But not like this!

It gives a taste of an extraordinary woman.

If you’d like to read about more extraordinary women, why not buy the book Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan – link below, press on book!





  1. This is absolutely awesome!!! Thank you for introducing me to this phenomenal woman

    Affirmations for a Good Life


    • Isn’t she wonderful? I found several early, black, female singers but she stood out.


  2. She’s incredible – and she looks so unlikely to be a guitar player, middle-aged and comfortably-built, wearing the sort of coat my mother wears. Which goes to show one can never tell from appearances.


    • I know – your brain finds it hard to take in at first. Looked at another way, it shows how innovative and shocking those first few rock n’ rollers must have been with their outlandish clothes and charismatic personas, moving suggestively onstage!


  3. Thea O'Brian

    What a beautiful and talented woman! Thanks for sharing.


    • Great fun. I loved listening to the recordings that are available.


  4. You’ve found some awesome women to introduce us to this year – thanks!


  5. She was a pretty fantastic guitarist. No doubt the blues she heard in Chicago had a big influence. Another good singer whose name starts with T is Big Mama Thornton. She’s fun to watch.


  6. This lady is …ughh…I always say this word but it fits…amazing! I never heard of her before but she really is great and one would not think she would play this guitar and sing like this. I have to look her up later


    • She’s brill isn’t she. There are some more on the internet.


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