Shout Sister Shout: Sister Rosetta Tharpe!
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Someone with a name like Sister Rosetta Tharpe must be dowdy, right?
Sister Rosetta did sing about Jesus but often with a happy boogie-woogie beat. She played a bluesy but swinging guitar.
Much earlier than Sam Cooke she left the world of gospel for secular audiences. Unlike Cooke she did return to the church circuit when her popular success receded. The pious were certainly outraged that she left the revival tent to appear and the Cotton Club and with the likes of Cab Calloway.
While most of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's songs are religious in theme for a time she sang the likes of “I want a tall skinny poppa.”
Wish I could explain why I like her singing. It isn't an instantly appealing voice. But she always knew how to keep the rhythm going. I'm not a fan of spirituals. But when Sister Tharpe sings Down By the Riverside the song is, as it were, born again.
When I bought the two volumes of Sister Rosetta on Document and one live CD on Milan I feared I had all I'd ever get. But those saints of the music business, Proper, released a four disc box (if you don't know Proper's box sets and like earlier music you should get acquainted. One of their boxes costs less than two ordinary CDs).
Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Original Soul Sister is a bit redundant. But that's OK. I had no idea she could give This Train (her best known song) so many different and enjoyable renditions.