Honoring Gospel Pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe!

On Oct 9, 1973, a gospel singer pioneering the way for others and one of the first gospel recording artists, Sister Rosetta Tharpe                                                                                                                                 (born in 1915) died.

Shout, Sister, Shout: A Tribute to Sister Rose...
Shout, Sister, Shout: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She was known as one of the first great recording stars of Gospel music in the late 1930s and also the “original soul sister” of recorded music.

Here is a short bio about Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s early years, you can read more at the website where this information came from http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=1781 :

Arkansas native Rosetta Nubin Tharpe was one of gospel music’s first superstars, the first gospel performer to record for a major record label (Decca), and an early crossover from gospel to secular music. Tharpe has been cited as an influence by numerous musicians, including Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Arkansan Johnny Cash.

Rosetta Nubin was born in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on March 20, 1915, to Katie Bell Nubin, an evangelist, singer, and mandolin player for theChurch of God in Christ (COGIC). No mention is found of her father. Nubin began performing at age four, playing guitar and singing “Jesus is on the Main Line.” By age six, Nubin appeared regularly with her mother, performing a mix of gospel and secular music styles that would eventually make her famous. As a youth, she could sing and keep on pitch and hold a melody. Her vocal qualities, however, paled beside her abilities on the guitar—she played individual tones, melodies, and riffs instead of just strumming chords. This talent was all the more remarkable because, at the time, few African-American women played guitar.

Nubin’s guitar style was influenced by her mother’s mandolin playing, pianist Arizona Dranes, and composer Florence Price, with whom Rosetta studied in Cotton Plant. She also sang the popular hymns of the day, including the compositions of bluesman turned gospel musician, Thomas A. Dorsey. Indeed, elements of blues are readily apparent in Nubin’s guitar styling. Later, Nubin’s music would be influenced by her work with jazz greats Lucky Milliner and Cab Calloway.

Billed as the “singing and guitar-playing miracle,” Nubin was an added attraction at her mother’s church services. Both mother and daughter worked as members of an evangelistic troupe that worked throughout the South before arriving in Chicago in the late 1920s. There they became part of the growing Holiness movement, a late nineteenth-century offshoot of the Pentecostal denomination which, in the 1890s, led to the formation of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and other new religious groups.

After several years of working with her mother and on the advice of several Chicago promoters, Nubin moved to New York in the mid-1930s. She married minister Thomas A. Thorpe in 1934. The marriage was short-lived; after their divorce, Rosetta kept the last name, changing the spelling to “Tharpe” for use as her stage name.


Please help to honor her today by checking out her music!

04 - Sister Rosetta Tharpe
04 – Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Photo credit: Bradford Timeline)



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