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Sister Rosetta

Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Choir, Down by the Riverside, circa 1960s / Today is “Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day” in Pennsylvania; she is buried in Philadelphia's Northwood Cemetery

“In 1951, more than 20,000 fans paid good money to attend her wedding at a baseball stadium in Washington, DC, where she entertained the crowd by playing electric guitar in her wedding finery.”

“Sister Rosetta Tharpe was gospel’s first national superstar: the musician who, beginning in the late 1930s, took the sounds of the 'Good News' music then developing in black churches to popular stages and Saturday-night audiences. Rosetta Tharpe had honed her skills as a singer-guitarist on the southern Pentecostal tent-meeting circuit, which she traveled with her mother, the evangelist Katie Bell Nubin, but her ebullient personality and masterful showmanship translated well to such prestigious New York nightspots as the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom. Her defiance of church strictures against engaging with the 'wordly' world made her an outcast in some Christian circles, but it also made her a trailblazer and the most important popularizer of gospel before Mahalia Jackson.”

~ Gayle F. Ward in the Beacon Broadside

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