As I was finalizing our films for this year’s Black History Month celebration, Double Exposure: African-American Music on Film, I got an email from Mick Csaky, the producer and director of a new film documentary about legendary gospel start Sister Rosetta Tharpe that was broadcast on BBC television in January. But Mick wasn’t checking to see if we could screen the film---he didn’t even know we were doing a film series. He was writing to make his case that Sister Rosetta should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His film, The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe is a powerful summary of her career, featuring blistering live performances where she displays her guitar prowess and mastery of the stage. He graciously gave us permission to screen the film, which we did this week to kick off our film series.
Gayle Wald, author of a fantastic biography of Sister Rosetta, Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, joined us for the evening. Gayle is chair of the Department of English at George Washington University, where she teaches courses on African American literature, popular music, and U.S. culture. We had a great conversation about Sister Rosetta’s significance and the importance of the film. During the Q&A with the audience, a woman told a great story about going to see Sister perform when she was a young girl and what a great memory it was for her. You can see clips from the interview here.
Read the book, see the film, and listen to as much Sister Rosetta Tharpe music as you can! She will be featured in our upcoming exhibit, Women Who Rock.