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The Woman Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll. “When Chuck Berry came out, I had seen all that” Gospel Singer Geraldine Gay Hambric.

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Presentation on theme: "The Woman Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll. “When Chuck Berry came out, I had seen all that” Gospel Singer Geraldine Gay Hambric."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Woman Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll

2 “When Chuck Berry came out, I had seen all that” Gospel Singer Geraldine Gay Hambric

3 A survey of five major text books used to teach the History of Rock or American Popular Music turns up only one mention of Sister Rosetta Tharpe

4 Childhood Born in Cotton Plant AR 1915 – Western Edge of MS delta Left Cotton Plant with mother at six Church of God in Christ – Pentecostal – Emotive, rhythmic, musical worship “Holy Rollers” Child protégé Mother Katie Bell becomes evangelist

5 Chicago Early ’20s Katie and Rosetta become members of the largest COGIC congregation in the country “Rock Church Rock” Rosetta would sing and accompany her self on guitar Maxwell Street By her teens Rosetta will be working the revival circuit with her mother Married COGIC preacher Thomas Tharpe

6 Florida Marriage – business arrangement? Settle in Miami Simulcast on WKAT radio Will begin bringing a new audience Church begins charging non-members to attend Sunday night services In 1938 “Rosabell” will leave behind her life in Florida, moving to New York and adopting the name “Sister Rosetta Tharpe”

7 New York – Fame & Worldly Music Debate as to why – Recruited by agent? – Pathway out of marriage? – Fulfillment of dream? Cotton Club ‘38 & Café Society ‘40 Irving Mills becomes publisher First Recordings with Decca____ Lucky Millinder ______

8 New York - Reborn In 1943 Tharpe no longer wanted to play secular and mock sacred music, but was contractually obligated to do so “Strange Things Are Happening Everyday”____ – Sam Price on piano – 1944 – seven years before Rocket 88 Both would be staples of Memphis’ Red, Hot, & Blue Radio Show in the 1950s Early live performances with electric guitar

9 Marie Knight Introduced to Tharpe in 1946 Seven years younger than Tharpe Had spent early ‘40s on revival circuit Had also married preacher and saw performing as way out Instant Musical Chemistry 1947 “Didn’t It Rain” ___ ______

10 Queens of the Road Tharpe and Knight toured as a duo through 1949____ Although is was denied by Knight and deflected by Tharpe, many close to the duo believe they were lovers 1950 Knight’s mother and two children die in a fire – marked the end of the duo ____

11 Richmond, DC, & Nashville In 1948 buys home in Richmond’s Barton Heights neighborhood Had already recorded with Virginia style jubilee with The Dependable Boys 1949 & 1950 Tharpe would the South backed by white vocal group the Jordanaires Customized tour bus allowed her to sleep, eat, and otherwise live on the bus Wedding/Concert DC July 1951 1952 recording session with Red Foley

12 Defining Rock ’n’ Roll – Musical Elements Blues based guitar Up-tempo shuffle Visceral rather than intellectual Blend of White and Black Vernacular Music elements

13 Defining Rock ’n’ Roll – Cultural Elements Bi-racial Participatory Social Dance Music Controversial

14 Defining Rock ’n’ Roll - Influences

15 Biases against Sister Rosetta Tharpe Lack of video of Sister Rosetta in her prime______ Lack of electric guitar recordings The Phallic Guitar The middle-aged white men who write about Rock Rock’s uncomfortable relationship with Gospel


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