Gibson celebrates the life of rock ’n’ roll trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe with new merch line and YouTube mini-doc

Gibson has shot a documentary and launched a merch and accessories line in celebration of the “Godmother of Rock ’N’ Roll,” Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Shout, Sister, Shout! tells the story of the Arkansas rock ’n’ roll pioneer who changed the world with a high-octane gospel sound powered by the electric guitar and her propulsive playing style. 

The story is told through Amythyst Kiah and Celisse Henderson, and follows Tharpe as she toured the south of America during the era of Jim Crow and segregation with a sound that would influence early rockers such as Chuck Berry and Elvis, and then go on to be a source of inspiration for contemporary rock acts such as Nova Twins

Gibson Sister Rosetta Tharpe Collection

(Image credit: Gibson)

Tharpe played a number of guitars, including big-bodied jazz guitars such as Gibson’s L-5, and notably a Gibson Les Paul Goldtop with a trapeze-style tailpiece. But it is the 1961 Les Paul SG Custom that she is most associated with. 

With its white finish, triple-humbucker format, gold hardware and sideways Vibrola, it was a statement instrument, and recently reissued by Gibson to commemorate its 60th Anniversary, with an Epiphone version, co-designed with the Gibson Custom Shop and featuring US pickups, a more budget-friendly alternative.

Gibson Sister Rosetta Tharpe Collection

(Image credit: Gibson)

The documentary is accompanied by Gibson’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe Collection, which offers a range of merch and accessories celebrating Tharpe, including t-shirts, a satin tour jacket, a number of Oxford pennants, an enamel pin set, camp flag, guitar strap, poster and even a mini Axe Heaven replica of her ’61 Les Paul SG Custom.

Those wanting to learn more about Sister Rosetta Tharpe beyond the documentary can also pick up Gayle F Wald’s biography, Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

You can check out the full collection over at Gibson.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.