Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Gayle F. Wald, Author . Beacon $25.95 (252p) ISBN 978-0-8070-0984-0

Though Elvis, Ginger Baker, Keith Richards and Jerry Lee Lewis paid her tribute, Sister Rosetta Tharpe's vast contribution to American musical history has nearly faded away. With the publication of this entertaining and enlightening biography, Tharpe—who reputedly played her electric guitar "like a man," withstood failed marriages, racial and sexual discrimination plus economic hardships—should receive the recognition she deserves. George Washington University professor Wald (Crossing the Line ) has knit together memories of 150 people familiar with Tharpe and her work. Wald's competent research provides readers with the larger historical framework within which Tharpe's contributions can be appreciated. Born in Arkansas in 1915, Rosetta Tharpe became a well-known child performer, honing her gospel guitar style in Pentecostal churches and tent revivals throughout the South. By the late 1930s Tharpe relocated to Chicago, made the life-altering choice of forsaking Pentecostal church performances and embarked on a secular career, eventually signing with Decca Records. During the 1950s Tharpe's career sagged due to changing musical tastes, but a well-timed European tour in 1957 reignited her career. Tharpe courageously cut across racial, musical and sexual boundaries, defying easy categorization, which may have contributed to her obscurity. Wald's biography of this unique performer will hopefully reawaken interest in her life and music. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 252 pages - 978-0-8070-0985-7
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