Sister Rosetta Tharpe
I’m posting a few of my past posts about extraordinary people of colour. #blacklivesmatter
Sister Rosetta Tharpe – AMAZING!
Rosetta Tharpe was born Rosetta Nubin on a cotton plant in Arkansas, on the 20th of March, 1915, and died in 1973, in Philadelphia, after a long career as a musician. 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.