Episode 54: The Black Woman who invented Rock n’ Roll Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Podcast

Podcast Notes

Sister Rosetta Tharpe is the topic of this podcast today.

Hey everybody, welcome to Tellers of the Untold I’m Vanessa, your host. And you know what we’re gonna do a little bit different. I’m thinking about a little bit of a different theme for these podcasts. And you know, this is March for women’s month and so of course, we’re gonna highlight black women, women of color. And what I’m doing is there’s a blog on my website for there are tons of blogs on my website. I will hope you guys check it out at tellers untold calm. But I’m gonna I kind of went through one of the blogs. So for those of you guys that you know, can’t get to the computer or can’t read, forgetting because of your site or anything like that, I’m going to kind of paraphrase and I kind of read a little bit of that blog to tell you about Sister Rosetta THARPE. Do you know do Do you know who she is? If you do Raise your hand. Now I can’t even see you. But Sister Rosetta is Rosetta Tharpe. She’s an interesting lady. Very interesting. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was the inventor of rock and roll. Did you know a black woman invented rock and roll a woman and she’s black. Not only move in and rock and roll, but she played a guitar. She played a guitar and was known for her brilliant style of guitar playing. And then she was so influential in the Gospel Music realm. So here’s a little bit on it a little bit, but here’s about 10 minutes on who Rosetta Thorpe is check out the website for more details to tellers on total calm. And I hope you guys enjoy it. Sister Rosetta Thorpe was the first to crossover successfully into mainstream popular music. She introduced the spiritual passion of gospel music into the secular world of rock and roll inspiring greats like Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lewis, and even Little Richard. She was not only a songstress but an influential guitarist as well. credited with being the first to experiment with heavy distortions of the electric guitar. Her guitar playing techniques had a profound influence on the development of British blues such as Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards. She was born in a cotton plant in Arkansas in 1915. And at the age of six, her evangelical mother, Katie Bell took her to Chicago, where she joined the Church of God in Christ and the city Southside Rosetta later married a church of god preacher named Thomas Thorpe. So after a few years in Chicago, she left without her husband to New York City to pursue the music industry. So her connection to secular music in New York City she starts singing secular songs, her willingness to play, quote, God’s music and the Devil’s Den of nightclubs and music halls caused an uproar. Many but not everyone loved her sound, for up was loved by religious circles, who thought her music was the devil or evil and played the playing the guitar was a sin. But Tharpe pushed spiritual music into the mainstream and helped start the rise of the popular gospel known as pop gospel.

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She performed at venues such as the famous Cotton Club and the cafes society, where this is where the famous Duke Ellington recognized her. Thorpe was later asked to play on stage with Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway. And she toured across the country, but it was frowned upon for having white and black musicians to perform together. However, thorup did not let that stop her. So she performed with all white singing groups such as the jordanaires group. It was a 1938 that Sister Rosetta signed a record contract with Decca Records, and record the first gospel song in 1938. called Rock me. Her music became the first gospel music ever to top the billboard, quote, race charts, with later becoming known as r&b. She later sold talent and a 14 year old boy by the name of Little Richard Penniman, so she put him on stage and he decided that night to become a performer. She saw marine night perform at a Mahalia Jackson concert in New York City in 1946 thorup recognizing a new talent, and good night, so the therapist suggested they tore together. They did the gospel circuit for several years, and during which they record hits such as up around my head and precious memories. So Knight and thorup are so talented with their instrument playing skills, and they were only headliners. This tour was legendary, and because of it being unheard to have two women touring together alone with no men, it helped to boost her pioneer status, and she was doing what was unheard of, and looked down upon. But the tour was a huge success. So later, thorup returned to her gospel roots and performed in packed churches and theaters around the United States and in Europe. She became one of America’s most distinctive recording artists on radio and television during the 1940s, the 1940s 1950s and the 1960s 60s. Her contributions are a long list. Here are seven contributions that she’s made. Number one, Johnny Cash said during the 1992 Hall of Fame induction ceremony that she was his favorite singer growing up. Oh, Richie called her his greatest influence. And Chuck Berry said that his entire career was just quote, one long Rosetta throat impersonation, and then December 2017, thrupp, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for her contributions. Number two, up was also known as the Forgotten mother because she wasn’t recognized for her contributions, maybe because she was black, or perhaps because of her bisexual ism. Number three, almost 15 years later, in July 15 1998, the United States Postal Service

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issued a 32 cent stamp and her honor. Number four thorpes 1944 release down by the riverside was selected for the National Recording Registry of the US Library of Congress in 2004. Number five governor Edward G. Grendel was proclaimed January 11 2008 as Sister Rosetta Tharpe day in the state of Pennsylvania. Number six in 2011. BBC aired a one hour documentary, entitled Sister Rosetta zetta throb, the godmother of rock and roll Written and directed by a UK film writer number seven and last but not least, and 2013. The film was shown in the US as part of the PBS series American Masters. I hope you enjoyed learning about the inventor of rock and roll Sister Rosetta

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