Sister Rosetta Tharpe was the first black gospel music star of the 1930’s. Born Rosetta Nubin Tharpe in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, she was the first gospel artist to record for a major label and the first to cross to secular music. Tharpe started performing “Jesus is on the Main Line” at age four before touring with her mother. She left an impression with fans of her music because she had mastered the guitar. Not many black women played the guitar back then.
Tharpe played gigs with her mother, who played the mandolin. She chose to follow in the footsteps of artists such as Arizona Dranes and Florence Price. She honed her skills enough to play along with greats like Lucky Milliner and Cab Calloway later in her career. In the church, she and her mother had joined the Holiness movement of the Pentecostal denomination that would later form the Church of God in Christ.
After pursuing marriage in New York City, Rosetta married Thomas Thorpe. After their short-lived marriage, she kept her last name and altered the “o” to an “a” for a stage name. A few years later, she remarried to Fosh Allen, which also ended in divorce. The third marriage proved her value to beloved fans; 25,000 people paid to see her third marriage to her manager, Russell Morrison in 1951.
With success as an independent artist, she was soon signed with Decca Records in 1938. Two of her hits were “This Train” and “Rock Me.” She became a crossover artist and a favorite for many years. She reached a pinnacle in her success on December 23, 1938 when she played Carnegie Hall. She, along with the Dixie Hummingbirds, another gospel group, were the only gospel acts to record “V-Discs” for U.S. troops overseas.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe experienced a downfall when the evolution of gospel music and the upswing of pop ensued. The popularity of her music declined, then in 1970 she suffered a stroke that resulted in a leg amputation. It caused Tharpe to develop speech difficulties, but she never gave up on performing, despite difficult odds.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe died in on October 9, 1973 in Philadelphia.
Learn more about the life of Sister Rosetta Tharpe on “American Masters Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll” — premiering nationwide Friday, February 22 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings) in honor of Black History Month and the 40th anniversary of Tharpe’s death.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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