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Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll 2013

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  • 2013-01-01
  • 90 mins
  • Mick Csáky
  • English
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A pop star at the height of her fame, staging a wedding in front of 25,000 at a baseball stadium (even finding a groom for the occasion), then issuing an album of the recording-- one might say that Sister Rosetta Tharpe (or her PR handlers) predicted the rise of “reality” culture in 1951. This is far from Tharpe’s legacy-- she was a primary influence on Chuck Berry and Elvis-- but an effect of her mid-century fame, which before this 2013 PBS documentary had yet to be explored. Quite nearly a born performer (touring at the age of six with her evangelical mother), she wowed crowds at the Cotton Club, then signed to Decca in 1938 and was one of the biggest pop stars in the world by age 25. Years before Sam Cooke and Ray Charles would do the same, Tharpe was bridging the gap between African-American church music and the secular world of the pop charts.

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