Although best known as a gospel artist Rosetta Tharpe’s rollicking mix of blues and jazz marked her out as a pioneer of rock 'n' roll. She was Johnny Cash’s favourite singer whilst Little Richard idolised her too. Rosetta was also a huge influence on Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Aretha Franklin.
She was born Rosetta Nubin in Cotton Plant, Arkansas in 1915 and made her stage debut at four years old. Billed as ‘Little Rosetta Nubin, the singing and guitar playing miracle’ she performed with her Evangelist mother. Rosetta recorded her first sides on October 31 1938. Her later 1944 recording Strange Things Happening Every Day is a stone classic and obvious forerunner of rock n roll. Rosetta’s picked intro is righteous stuff.
Listen: Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Strange Things Happening Every Day (1944)