American Masters

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother Of Rock & Rol

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During the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Southern-born, Chicago-raised and New York-made Sister Rosetta Tharpe introduced the spiritual passion of her gospel music into the secular world of popular rock 'n roll, inspiring the male icons of the genre. This flamboyant African-American gospel superstar, with her spectacular virtuosity on the newly electrified guitar, was a natural-born performer and a rebel -- one of the most important singer-musicians of the 20th century. She is acknowledged as a major influence not only on generations of black musicians -- including Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Isaac Hayes and Etta James -- but also on white stars such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

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