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Sat, 03.20.1915

Gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe born


*Sister Rosetta Tharpe was born on this date in 1915. She was an African American singer and one of the first gospel singers to tour Europe.

Her career spanned five decades. Born Rosetta Nubin, in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, her family moved to Chicago when she was five. Her singing debut, with her mother, was before an audience of 1,000 people. The 1920’s and 30’s were years when Sister Rosetta sang the gospel songs of composers such as W.H. Brewster and blues-tinted gospels songs of Thomas A. Dorsey. Rosetta Tharpe was married three times.

She was featured in Life magazine and her biggest hit was Rock Me, while recording for Decca records. Her style was unmistakably flamboyant. She sang at the Apollo Theater with Cab Calloway and performed consistently into the 1960’s. Heart ailments took their toll the last five years of her life; Sister Rosetta Tharpe died in Philadelphia in 1973.

Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

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