The Beginning of Rock n’ Roll
Elvis Presley, who? When it comes to the creation of Rock n’ Roll, we give credit where it’s due. The title of the Queen and creator of Rock goes to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. While first gaining the love for music in the church growing up, Tharpe first started her musical background with gospel music. She was an influencer in a genre of music dominated by musicians like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. With her love of singing and instruments, she fused blues, jazz, and gospel to create a new sound. Sister Rosetta Tharpe Rock n’ Roll legend remains.
Joining the Cotton Club Revue in 1938 was huge. In the time of segregation and WWII ending, we can only imagine the barriers that Tharpe was breaking through. With this time in history, it wasn’t all glamour and respect. Tharpe had to sleep in her tour bus instead of a hotel due to her being a black woman. When she went out to eat, she was not invited with open arms. Instead, she waited outside in the back of the restaurant to receive food because she was denied entrance. It was Tharpe’s reality, but she continued to rise to greatness.
Tharpe’s Influence Today
As the years have gone by, we get to know more about black creators and inventors through social media—including Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A spotlight that was once never there. Some argue that Tharpe invented rock n’ roll, and we know that many black artists are robbed of their art and then erased from the narrative–never receiving credit. In this digital time marginalized communities are reclaiming our history.
While Tharpe’s career remained on top for years– her success at the time eventually came to an end. Tharpe and singer Marie Knight were partners in their personal lives and their musical careers. They toured and kept a relationship up until 1950. With this event not more than a couple of years after, her presence in rock n’ roll slowly deteriorated. Once she was out of the scene, white men conquered the genre of music and prospered from her invention of rock n’ roll.
While some people still don’t know the origin of rock n’ roll, social media won’t let us forget the great name, the Queen of rock n’ roll—Sister Rosetta Tharpe. With her recognition becoming more prominent, we can thank Lizzo and her guitarist Celisse in their SNL performance for paying homage. In an amazing tribute to Tharpe, Celisse performs with a guitar that replicates Tharpe’s. Many people caught on to the tribute and remembered who she was to the music industry. Rock n’ roll will continue and so will the legacy of Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Photos by Getty Images
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