Today’s Dope Queen of Black History is Sister Rosetta Tharpe aka “The Godmother of Rock and Roll”. She was a pioneering gospel singer and guitarist whose sound was integral to the creation of Rock and Roll. Tharpe toed the line between secular music and sacred, performing at main stream venues like nightclubs and concert halls. She helped push gospel music into the mainstream recording hits such as “Down by The Riverside” in 1944.
Tharpe was known for her rollicking playing style, which melded blues, and swing with traditional folk music. She was considered a musical prodigy, performing gospel music with her mother from the age of 4. She spent her early years touring the church circuit, and started recording in 1938. Her records were big hits and she performed at Carnegie Hall as part of John Hammonds Spirituals to Swing concert. Her performance was controversial, at the time spiritual performances did perform in secular venues, especially not along side jazz and blues musicians. But Tharpe won over the Carnegie Hall audience and went on to perform with Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club on the regular.
She switched between gospel and secular recording hits such as ‘Shout Sister Shout”, and “That’s All”, which was the first record she shreded the electric guitar on. “That’s All” would had a lasting effect on major players in Rock and Roll such as Chuck Berry. Tharpe continued to tour, experimenting with her sound, though she kept a lower profile in later years.
She had a resurgence in the 1960’s due to British Blues popularity. Tharpes innovative guitar technique influenced many of the rock greats, yet her contributions aren’t widely known. Sister Rosetta Thorpe was a rock star of the gospel and secular worlds and was the epitome of Black Girls Rock! #blackgirlsrock#americanhistory #blackexcellence #blackgirlmagic #28daysofblackcosplay