SISTER ROSETTA THARPE was known as both “the original soul sister” and as “the godmother of rock’n’roll” but first and foremost she was a gospel musician who incorporated some of the first fusion of R&B mixed with gospel and her own unique guitar playing style all the way back in the 1930s that would ultimately be deemed a new musical genre called rock’n’roll. Yes, it was SISTER ROSETTA THARPE, a name that should be known in every music lover’s mind, not only because she was so influential in the development of a musical genre that changed the world, but also because she was a powerhouse of musical expression in her own right. This woman was pioneering her own vision all the way back in the 1920s!
She was really the first to blur the sacred and the secular (did you hear that Ray Charles fans?) and walked in darkness to display the light. She had pop sensibilities before pop music existed, knew how to blend the best of the blues, contemporary gospel and the early 20th century jazz techniques to create her own brand of spiritually uplifting music magic. While SISTER ROSETTA actually found success and had many hits in the 30s and 40s, the lack of her music being readily available on CD form in the modern age has nudged curious music lovers such as myself into finding her most readily available album GOSPEL TRAIN which was released in 1956 as my first SISTER experience and i have to say that i’m not in the least bit disappointed. This woman has the soul of Mahalia Jackson accompanied by the coolest of organists, honky tonk piano players and catchy melodies. Instantly addictive, the mystique of her history is also an addictive quality knowing that the blueprints for everything rock, metal and beyond came from this humble woman born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, USA in 1915.
This short but sweet album is the perfect introduction into ROSETTA’s unique gospel experience where she plays her guitar while looking up to the heavens above pontificating all the positivity she can muster up. I would have to say that i don’t really agree that SISTER ROSETTA was the actual creator of rock’n’roll because rock is not just a guitar lick and rhythmic style alone. It is an attitude as well. No doubt she was a precursor and a vitally important one that led to the the birth of the rock’n’roll world of the 1950s that led to Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and even the one who didn’t give SISTER THARPE credit, Elvis Presley. I hear a lot of Tina Turner going on here as well actually. The truth is she wasn’t pure rock’n’roll as we came to know it once it hit the main stream. She was unapologetically a gospel musician and singer through and through but unknowingly was a MAJOR influence of so much of what came after and for that we certainly need to give this woman credit where credit is due. After all is said and done about all the rock’n’roll creds, this music is just infectious for what it is. It is upbeat, it is positive and it is from the heart and just beautiful. If this music doesn’t seep into your heart and blow you away then you’re simply just not human!