10 Facts About Gospel Singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

1. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was born Rosetta Nubin on March 20, 1915, in Cotton Plant, Arkansas.

2. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an accomplished guitarist, who learned to play the mandolin at the age of six. Her picking style of playing the guitar was developed on the streets of Chicago, where she was an evangelist who was influenced by blues artists like blind Willie Johnson.

3. Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded her first four sides on October 31, 1938, for Decca Records

4. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was one of the first African-American gospel singers to appear at Carnegie Hall, in John Hammond’s legendary production “From Spirituals to Swing.”

5. Sister Rosetta Tharpe shocked the world when she began singing her gospel numbers in a more secular form, in various nightclubs around the country including The Cotton Club, where she debuted in New York, in October of 1938.

6. In 1938, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was involved in a public dispute with singer Thomas Dorsey over songwriting credit for the song “Hide Me In Thy Bosom.” It was an early example of the church’s issues with secular music, long before artists like Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield and others began parlaying spirituals into commercial hits.

7. Over 25,000 people attended Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s third wedding, to manager Russell Morrison, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. in 1951.

8. Sister Rosetta Tharpe recorded her first all blues material in 1953 with singer Marie Knight.

9. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was known as “The Original Soul Sister” of R&B

10. The United States Postal Service issued a 32-cent commemorative stamp to honor Sister Rosetta Tharpe on July 15, 1998.

Bonus: Sister Rosetta Tharpe far died on October 9, 1973 in Philadelphia, after suffering from her second stroke brought on by diabetes.

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