“Sister Rosetta Tharpe is one of the essential figures in the history of rock and roll. If she had not been there as a model and inspiration, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and other rock originators would have had different careers. No one deserves more to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.”
Sister Rosetta began performing at age four with her mother, and begun touring the South as a “singing and guitar playing miracle” by age six. In 1938, at age 23, Rosetta performed in John Hammond’s Spirituals to Swing Concert at Carnegie Hall—a controversial a revolutionary perfomance in serveral aspects. Her “unique guitar style beldned melody-driven urban blues with traditional folk arrangements and incorporated a pulsating swing sound that is one of the first precursors of rock and roll.” Her work continued to join the world of gospel music with more secular sounds in the 1940s.
Watch Sister Rosetta Tharpe perform “That’s All,” a song that would influence Chuck Perry and Elvis Presley.
Watch the Inductee Insights video for Rosetta's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.