Podcast #38: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

In Episode 38, we hear the sweet, sweet music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, known as the godmother of rock’n’roll. 

DLS co-founder Florian Duijsens brings us the tale of this legendary guitarist and gospel singer who had a profound influence on musicians like Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Aretha Franklin. She took to the stage at the age of four, and never really left it. 
Sister Rosetta Tharpe made the first gospel record to hit the charts, played with Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club, attracted 25,000 paying customers to her third wedding, got in trouble with gospel purists and recorded a live album in Paris in 1964.

To start off the episode, Susan and Katy toast to the end of a strange year with the Dead Ladies Show signature tipple, affordable German bubbly Rotkäppchen (Red Riding Hood) and give thanks for the support we’ve had, and that yet to come. 

The presentation in this episode was recorded live with help from Brigitte Hamar at the Studiobühne der Universität Münster where we were invited by the Burg Hülshoff Center for Literature. Other talks from this event in German can be found in the Center’s Mediathek: https://www.burg-huelshoff.de/en/medien/mediathek/dead-ladies-show
Thanks also to Fiona, Kati, Tobias, Feline and Jörg for inviting and assisting us.
Here we are with our co-presenters Karosh Taha and Bernadette Hengst.

Show notes:

Here’s a headline on the big wedding
And the record made of it!
With her mother, Katie Bell Nubin
Playing at a secular venue…
…and in church.
Performing with Marie Knight…
…and signing in furs.
Having fun with some kids
Katie’s record
In later years
A late gravestone…
…and a late tribute
Sequinned and Gibsoned

Florian recommends two top resources: Gayle Wald’s biography Shout, Sister, Shout! and Mick Czasky’s film The Godmother or Rock’n’Roll.

AND! Check out Florian’s fabulous PLAYLIST for more sounds from Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the gang.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.
Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode next month. 

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