Ever wonder what's the big deal about Rosetta Tharpe?
Ever even heard of Rosetta Tharpe?
Don't let it get you down, few have.
Born Arkansas in 1914, Tharpe was the daughter of Katie Bell Nubin, a popular touring gospel singer of the time. Alleged to have “mastered’ the guitar by the age of six, she was certainly performing with her mother by that age, mastery or not, and continued to earn her living performing for the next 50-ish years.
She signed with Decca records in her early twenties and immediately began making hit Gospel records. She would later cross over from Billboard’s Gospel charts to the “Race” charts on several occasions, a feat that to my knowledge had never been accomplished before and rarely since.
If you like Gospel Music and the Blues, two things we clearly love around here, Sister Rosetta Tharpe is well worth looking into.
This performance was recorded in Manchester, England in 1964 as part of the American Folk Blues Festival recordings of the early 60s, which we keep encouraging people to go out and buy mostly because we just love it.
This is Sister Rosetta Tharpe on her 1963 Gibson SG Custom guitar, which I don't think anybody even bothered to plug in. I can't figure out anyone else in the band ... yet.
Didn't It Rain.
Conceived by German jazz publicist Joachim-Ernst Berendt, The American Folk Blues Festival was an annual fall tour of Europe by American blues musicians.
Jazz having become very popular in Europe, and with rock and roll just beginning to gain a foothold there, the fact that both genres drew influences from the blues caused Berendt to think that European audiences would jump at the chance to see live performances by American blues artists.
Promoters Horst Lippmann and Fritz Rau brought Berendt’s idea to fruition by entering into a relationship with the great Willie Dixon that would enable them to book the greatest and most influential of America’s blues musicians.
The first festival was held in 1962.
It continued mostly annually until 1972.
After an eight year hiatus it was revived in 1980 and ran until 1985.
During the course of these tours, Lippman and Rau were able to arrange very high quality, live in the studio performances by these great artists for German television.
One of which follows here.
Famed German poster artist Gunther Kieser did the poster art and show bills for the 1964 tour from which the following performance was taken.
Click on the poster to link up to Amazon’s offering of Reelin in the Years Productions’ DVD collection of these historic performances.
Here’s the great Chester Burnett, also know as Howlin' Wolf on vocals and accoustic guitar, the equally great Hubert Sumlin on the electric guitar, Sunnyland Slim on piano, along with Willie Dixon (who you never see) playing bass, with an introduction from what appears to be a fairly well buzzed Mae Mercer.
Shake for Me.
It seems we've just completed our second unpaid product endorsement.