Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer

Category: Early Influence

Inducted in: 2018

Nominated as a Performer in: 2018   

Inducted into Rock Hall Revisited in 2007 (ranked #9 in the Influences - Pre-Rock Era category) .

Essential Songs (?)WikipediaAmazon MP3YouTube
This Train (1939)
Strange Things Happening Every Day (1944)
Up Above My Head, I Hear Music in the Air (1948)

Sister Rosetta Tharpe @ Wikipedia

Sister Rosetta Tharpe Videos


25 comments so far (post your own)

should definitely be IN as an Early Influence

Posted by Matt Love on Sunday, 06.20.10 @ 02:34am

After noticing that Sister Rosetta Tharpe was mentioned alongside other inductees in the upcoming Women In Rock Exhibit (and heavily at that), here's more proof that Cleveland is looking to induct her into the museum. At the very least, she's certainly on their radar this year.

Posted by Casper on Wednesday, 03.9.11 @ 06:56am

The bulk of her work was in the 30s & 40s. Hard to make a case for her as a regular enshrinee, but perhaps as an early influence.

Posted by Richie Rich on Wednesday, 03.9.11 @ 07:41am

I agree, she would make a great early influence candidate.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Wednesday, 03.9.11 @ 07:43am

One can only hope. It'll have been 3 years since an Early Influence induction, and 12 years since a LEGITIMATE Early Influence induction.

Posted by Philip on Wednesday, 03.9.11 @ 09:21am

I mean, they have to induct her after all of this won't they?

I for one am glad if it indeed happens. The Early Influence category (save for Ms. Jackson's suspect induction of course) has been stagnant for TOO long and Sister Rosetta Tharpe has been long overdue for this honor. Plus, it would be nice to see this category on the regular rotation again (Wynonie Harris STILL hasn't been inducted!)

I'm guessing she'll be inducted next year alongside Chuck Willis.

Posted by rockstar23 on Wednesday, 03.16.11 @ 06:07am


Seriously, for someone who is considered by Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, and Johnny Cash as an influence, this still boggles me.

Posted by rex on Saturday, 07.16.11 @ 04:30am

Watch the documentary film, "The Godmother of Rock and Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe." and you will have your answer.

Posted by Brpther B on Saturday, 10.29.11 @ 15:52pm

As the maker of the documentary film "THE GODMOTHER OF ROCK & ROLL: Sister Rosetta Tharpe" I find it extraordinary that such a distinguished talent as Sister Rosetta should have been left out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for so long. Surely, it cannot be because she lacked the talent or universal acknowledgement from her fellow musicians! Could it simply be a case of racism and sexism still existing within the music industry of the USA today?

Posted by Mick Csaky on Tuesday, 12.20.11 @ 08:23am

I'd sya it's less to do with that and more that the moninating committee just aren't interested in gospel that much.

Posted by GFW on Tuesday, 12.20.11 @ 08:30am

SHAME on this,so called group of "experts" on music! If it was not for, not only people like her, let's go a step further and say, "women" like her, a large majority of these "inductees" would not even be such!

Posted by emily on Saturday, 02.23.13 @ 15:44pm

With the endorsements of Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Isaac Hayes, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Little Richard, I don't see what else needs to motivate the Hall to induct Sister Rosetta Tharpe as an Early Influence. She should have gone in a long time ago.

Here's a great article that examines the influence that Sister Rosetta Tharpe had on Elvis Presley:

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 05.14.13 @ 00:11am

The always knowledgeable and perceptive Sampson provided this analysis of Sister Rosetta Tharpe over at DigitalDreamDoor. I concur with his sentiments and wish that the Hall would honor this pioneer who influenced so many significant names (Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, etc.), fused gospel with blues, and was one of the first female artists to play an electric guitar.

"One of the first performers to bring gospel and blues together created outrage in its day but planted the seeds that eventually led to the development of soul down the road. Tharpe was also one of the greatest guitarists of her time and a truly powerful singer and live performer. How she's been overlooked thus far is inexplicable and a total embarrassment to the institution. The fact that artists like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger breezed in under this category when folk music actually had little or nothing to do with rock's early development yet Tharpe can't even get a nomination is proof of the ongoing white viewpoint that has distorted rock's black origins."

I also found these quotes from various artists who credited the Sister as an influence:

I said, “Say man, there’s a woman who can sing some rock and roll.” I mean, she’s singing religious music, but she is singing rock and roll. She’s ... shakin’ man ... She jumps it. She’s hitting that guitar, playing that guitar, and she is singing. I said, “Whoooo. Sister Rosetta Tharpe.”
—Jerry Lee Lewis, in an interview conducted by Peter Guralnick

"Sister Rosetta Tharpe was anything but ordinary and plain. She was a big, good-looking woman and divine, not to mention sublime and splendid. She was a powerful force of nature–a guitar-playing, singing evangelist.”
-Bob Dylan, on his radio show

"Rosetta was one of the most beloved and influential artists ever in gospel music…and she blazed a trail for the rest of us women guitarists with her indomitable spirit and accomplished, engaging style. She has long been deserving of wider recognition and a place of honor in the field of music history."
—Bonnie Raitt, from the back cover of the recent biography Shout, Sister, Shout!

"Rosetta Tharpe was one of my first influences, one of the first people I heard sing. I'm glad Gayle Wald has done a book on her because people need to know." —Isaac Hayes, also from the same book

"A book like this is long overdue. Rosetta Tharpe was a major star and a huge influence on the musicians of her day. Listen to her recordings and you can hear all the building blocks of rock and roll." —Joan Osborne, also from the same book

What the hell is the Hall waiting for? Induct this legend pronto!

Posted by Zach on Thursday, 08.8.13 @ 23:35pm


If you had to pick out the top Tharpe track for you personally what would it be?

Posted by Chris F. on Thursday, 11.14.13 @ 07:23am

Chris F.,

That's a very good question. I just acquired and ripped a Sister Rosetta Tharpe compilation, The Gospel of the Blues. Based on my exposure to her music, I'd have to single out Shout Sister Shout (1941) as my favorite track of hers. Tharpe provides a magnetic, forceful vocal performance and blends in perfectly with the swinging orchestrations and backing vocals of Lucky Millinder's Orchestra. The choruses feature some nice call-and-response between Tharpe and the band. Overall, a highly effective melding of gospel and swing.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 11.19.13 @ 19:56pm


"Shout Sister Shout" is a fantastic record. She was such a great contrast to Mahalia Jackson (who is a personal favorite of mine). And as she aged that voice just got so more powerful. There is a tribute album called "Shout, Sister, Shout: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe" with a bunch of modern females taking on her music. I know you are a fan of the classics but it is really a fantastic album. There is a cover of Precious Memories on there by a group called Sweet Honey In The Rock. I would highly recommend them to you if you like Tharpe. A wonderfully talented group of women.

Do you ever happen to listen to The Clara Ward Singers? They had a huge impact on Elvis. While a strict gospel group they kind of set the stage for the classy girl groups that would come out of Rock'N'Roll. Vocally she was somewhere between that powerhouse of Mahalia and the excitement of Tharpe.

Posted by Chris F. on Wednesday, 11.20.13 @ 09:23am

Never heard of her. Tharpe?

Posted by Timius on Saturday, 09.20.14 @ 08:57am

I believe that even if the RRHall Of Fame doesn't induct Sister Rosetta into its institution, it is their DUTY to use the power of their institution to recover her name... just as The Rolling Stones did for Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters etc... If it wasn't for artists like Sister Rosetta, then there would be no Elvis... And if there were no Elvis, then would there even be a R&R hall of fame?

Posted by Michael Barry on Tuesday, 12.9.14 @ 01:55am

I just watched the BBC documentary 'Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Godmother of Rock and Roll' on Youtube, just now and its well worth the watch. So Mick Csaky (sp?), if you're reading this, you did an excellent job! Its nice to know that artists like you comment on this site.

Coincidentally, as I watched this, near the end it mentioned on 1/11/2008 that it was declared in some PA town 'Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day', 7 years exactly before I commented here! I learned so much.

And yes, I think its very shameful that she has yet to be put in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I'll let the others do the explaining for me :)

Posted by Jason Voigt on Monday, 01.12.15 @ 00:51am

I'm a little confused so let me get this straight.
The godmother of rock and roll is not in the rock and roll hall of fame. UNBELIEVABLE!

Posted by ScottB on Sunday, 11.6.16 @ 23:31pm

They nominated Sister Rosetta Tharpe to see what would happen. She is a legitimate early influence. She is definitely going to be inducted in the Early Influence category in 2018! It's a game the Rock Hall is playing.

Posted by Roy on Thursday, 10.5.17 @ 09:01am

Is anyone surprised that Sister Rosetta Tharpe is doing better than Link Wray, Rufus, and The Meters on the official Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2018 poll? I'm not!

Posted by Roy on Thursday, 10.26.17 @ 17:07pm

Bonnie Raitt should present Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Posted by Roy on Wednesday, 12.13.17 @ 10:51am

Mavis Staples should present Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Posted by Roy on Wednesday, 12.13.17 @ 11:33am

Does Sister Rosetta Tharpe have any nieces, nephews, or second cousins who will be collecting her trophy at the induction ceremony, or will this just be a plain induction like Little Walter's?

Posted by Roy on Tuesday, 02.20.18 @ 20:05pm

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