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sister rosetta tharpe :: Blog

America's Foremothers

Monday, September 12: 11 a.m.
Bessie Smith

"America's Foremothers" is the first installment in a special series that highlights the evolution of women in music by placing their accomplishments, inspirations and influence in the context of the eras that shaped their sounds and messages. 

Between 1920 and 1947, roughly the period covered in the “Foremothers” section of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Women Who Rock exhibit, American women made great strides toward gaining equality while championing basic human rights. Female musicians responded to the liberation evolving around them, forming a collection of voices that melodically – and often defiantly – set the tone that inspired generations of women. Leading the charge were the “Foremothers”: Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Mahalia Jackson and Mother Maybelle Carter.

Among the suffrage movement's greatest victories was the passing of the nineteenth amendment in 1920. The ensuing decades saw many more developments as women were elected to office, quite literally taking seats of power: state governor (Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming, 1924) and senator (Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas, 1932); and the first female member of the President’s cabinet, Francis Perkins, was appointed Secretary of Labor in 1933. The Women’s Amateur ...


continue Categories: Hall of Fame, Inductee, Exhibit

Rock Hall kicks off Black History Month with Double Exposure: African-American Music on Film

Friday, February 11: 12:54 p.m.

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 ...


continue Categories: Education, Black History Month
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