Only in a society handicapped by racism and misogyny could someone like Elvis wind up being a bigger and better-remembered star than Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose birthday is today.
She was born in Cotton Plant Arkansas. They say her father could sing and her mother was a musician and preacher. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree and she was wowing them as a prodigy in Chicago by the time she was ten.
All that talent, stage time and encouragement led to something truly wonderful. Tharpe had dominating stage presence and ample skill. The voice and the phrasing catch you right away, but note the guitar solo here – she has serious chops.
Oddly, Tharpe is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, though many who were inspired by her, including Johnny Cash, are.
But when I hear Sister Rosetta Tharpe sing and play the guitar and read about her precocious youth, it suddenly becomes easier to believe that certain people are put on Earth to do a particular thing, and when opportunity and talent align, it’s a sight (and sound) to behold.
What were you good at when you were very young?