The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its latest inductees on Dec. 12th which includes the godmother of rock ‘n ‘roll, Sis. Rosetta Tharpe.
Sis. Rosetta Tharpe, many believed was the pioneer of rock ‘n’ roll. Her distinctive voice and unconventional style reverberated off her gospel background as she broke ground with her electric guitar. In the mid 1930s- the United States, still under institutionalized racism and male dominated, female guitarists were rare and for a musician who pursued both religious and secular themes, it shocked the gospel community. In 1938, at only 23, she scored her first single, “Rock Me”, a rock ‘n’ roll gospel fusion. Jessica Diaz-Hurtado of NPR wrote, “Rock Me’, which showcased Tharpe’s distinctive guitar style and melodic blues mixed with traditional gospel music, made her a trailblazer — as did the range of her voice, which resounded with conviction as she sang the words “rock me!” With this song, she made it plain that her words could not only transcend lines of faith, but could also represent a shift in popular music in real time.” Despite the fame, on tour, all restaurants and hotels were still segregated, so Tharpe slept on buses. Yet her spirt never broke.
As the 50s came along, so did singers like Elvis Presley and other young white men started taking over the rock ‘n’ roll scene sampling the sounds she had forged. Tharpe then took her talents to Europe and with a new population of fans, she performed what would be of her most iconic performances: Singing “Didn’t It Rain” to a crowd across a train station platform in south Manchester.
Through her unforgettable voice and gospel swing crossover style, Tharpe influenced a generation of musicians including Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry and countless others. She also collaborated with Duke Ellington and the Dixie Hummingbirds. Her career, which spanned four decades, was grounded in both her confidence and what she brought to her performances night after night. She was, and is, an unmatched artist. Job well done Sis. Rosetta Tharpe!
The 33rd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2018 in Cleveland, OH. Other inductees include Nina Simone, Bon Jovi, LL Cool J and more. See the complete list here: https://www.rockhall.com/class-2018-inductees
Featured image- Tony Evans/Getty