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Saturday, December 16, 2017

The guitar-playing, gospel-singing sensation paved the way for Elvis, and influenced everyone from Miranda Lambert to Bob Dylan Gripe all you like about deserving acts overlooked by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but no artist has been more overdue for recognition than Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose induction into the Hall's "Influences" category was announced this morning. A queer black woman from Arkansas who shredded on electric guitar, belted praises both to God and secular pleasures, and broke the color line touring with white singers, she was gospel's first superstar, and she most assuredly rocked. Tharpe's first hit, in fact, was the transformed spiritual "Rock Me," recorded with her soaring held notes and sexy growls back in 1938 -- when the latter-day King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley, was still a toddler. Tharpe would later hire Grand Old Opry stars the Jordanaires to back her, years before they began working for Presley, who was her unabashed fan.




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"Elvis loved Sister Rosetta," recalled the Jordanaires' Gordon Stoker, especially her "incredible" guitar style. "That's what really attracted Elvis: her pickin'. He liked her singing, but he liked that pickin' first -- because it was so different."

Tharpe was an influence on other early rockers, too, including Chuck Berry. Later ones took note as well. "Sister Rosetta Tharpe was anything but ordinary and plain," said Bob Dylan on his Theme Time Radio Hour show.

"She was a big, good-lookin woman, and divine, not to mention sublime and splendid. She was a powerful force of nature. A guitar-playin', singin' evangelist."

More recently, reigning country queen Miranda Lambert has been opening shows with an iconic clip of Tharpe performing "Up Above My Head."

Check the riffs at 1:26.


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Bonus Blues by Big Momma Thornton - Hound Dog and Down Home Shakedown


"When you see Elvis Presley singing early in his career ... imagine he is channeling Sister Rosetta Tharpe," Wald has suggested. "It's not an image I think we're used to thinking about when we think of rock & roll history – we don't think about the black woman behind the young white man."

#1 | Posted by Corky at 2017-12-13 04:52 PM | Reply

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: That's All


The Story Of Sister Rosetta Tharpe 01


#2 | Posted by Corky at 2017-12-13 05:00 PM | Reply

I can think of no one else more deserving of the "Influence" category..she was one classy, talented lady that knocked down walls all through her life, I don't think rock music would be where it is without her.

#3 | Posted by ghoti at 2017-12-14 09:19 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Hadn't heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe before this post, but now I've listened to a few of her songs on Youtube and am digging her music.

#4 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2017-12-15 05:09 PM | Reply

I wasn't familiar with her influence on rock, either.

The Story Of link in 2 is a well-done BBC production. She was a big time music celeb much of her life in both gospel and what became rock and roll, perhaps the first to ever bring white musicians onstage with a black musical group. She had a long-term gay relationship, and her guitar work and stage presence was emulated by the likes of Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Elvis the Pelvis.

#5 | Posted by Corky at 2017-12-16 11:53 AM | Reply

Bless Sister Rosetta.

No Sonics no Justice.


#6 | Posted by uncle_meat at 2017-12-16 10:39 PM | Reply

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