Arkansan Added to Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame
Elvis grew up listening to her music. Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Tina Turner, Isaac Hayes, Jerry Lee Lewis and even fellow Arkansan Johnny Cash cited her as a musical influence. Her guitar playing appealed to legendary guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Jeff Beck. She’s been called “the Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Now, nearly 45 years after her death, Arkansas Delta native Sister Rosetta Tharpe is being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as an Early Influencer.
Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, on March 20, 1915, Rosetta Nubin Atkins grew up in a musical and religious family. Her mother was an evangelist, mandolin player and singer, and Rosetta began singing and playing guitar at age 4…by age 6, she was performing alongside her mother. Rosetta and her mother joined a touring group of musicians and evangelists and eventually made their way to Chicago in the late 1920s.
In the 1930s, Rosetta headed to The Big Apple, and while in New York City, she married a minister, Thomas Thorpe. Although the marriage ended in divorce, she began using “Tharpe” as her stage name. In 1938, Sister Rosetta Tharpe signed a contract with Decca Records and became an immediate hit with black and white audiences. In fact, it was Sister Rosetta’s “Strange Things Happen Every Day,” recorded in 1944, was the first gospel song to cross over on the Billboard charts. In fact, some music historians refer to the record as the first rock and roll song.