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Sister Rosetta Tharpe

1
  • Year:
    2018
  • Inducted by:
    Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes)
  • Category:
    Early Influences
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Hall of Fame Essay

2018

Gayle Wald

In the fall of 1938, when she stepped out onto the storied stage of the Cotton Club, Rosetta Tharpe did what no performer sprung from the rich musical traditions of black Pentecostalism had ever previously dared, or perhaps even imagined.

She presented the music of her church to a predominantly white audience in search of Saturday-night diversion, not Sunday-morning deliverance. Within weeks, audience enthusiasm for the "hymn-swinging," guitar-slinging "evangelist" had earned her second billing to headliner Cab Calloway.

Notable engagements at other legendary New York venues - the Paramount (with Count Basie), the Apollo (with Fats Waller, Lionel Hampton, and others), and Carnegie Hall (at the historic "From Spirituals to Swing" concert) - quickly followed.

Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes performing for Sister Rosetta Tharpe

A powerhouse voice and groundbreaking guitar technique

Brittany Howard

Photography: Getty/WireImage

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