This book is a billed as "The Untold Story or Rock N Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe".
Some of you may recall my waxing lyrically about Sister Rosetta when celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Chorltonville blues gigs that ITV recorded in April 1964. By then Sister Rosetta had over 20 years been at the head of her game. Over the years principally known as a gospel artist she crossed into Swing in the early 40s to much controversy and then was accepted particularly on the European side of the Atlantic into the secular blues boom of the late 50s and 60s.
This book charts her entire life and career and is a fascinating read. It is more a scholarly biographic work than a story and reads as such so whilst extremely well researched and very thorough it sadly isn't a whirlwind story. Which is a shame since her life was like that, even to signing a deal to hold a wedding in 7 months as part of a huge gospel service/gig without a husband available! She delivered the husband and the service/gig drew a crowd of over 20,000! Just one of the great stories of her life.
Now my interest comes in her incredible guitar playing, I never realised how important she is in the development of blues/rock guitar. She was a great acoustic player before electric guitars came along but along with T-Bone Walker she realised you could play an electric guitar differently, the increased sustain and note clarity on a solid body meaning she rewrote how to solo. Also she was at one with the instrument.
So I'll give this book a single thumbs up on my scale - but that is a bit unfair given the quality of the story and the terrific research that has gone into it, just I'd have loved a more passionate involved personal narrative but that is me...
Go search her out on YouTube and other places - esp on the YouTube stuff and watch her strutting around and playing great solos infront of gospel choirs on USA tv shows, the brief but brilliant Chorltonville appearance is just terrific too.
Here are a two Youtube clips that sum her up in the 60s Didn't It Rain from Chorltonville and Up Above My Head from a US TV Gospel show - but do search out more and read the book which catalogues her life superbly.
Sadly Sister Rosetta died in October 1973 just days after I got my first guitar for my 11 birthday from a blood clot on the brain brought on by diabetes over a number of years when she never sought treatment, she'd had to have a leg amputated after a stroke in 1970.
Now ... watch this woman... then remember she is this rocking black woman guitar toting genius in a time when she could barely get served in many hotels and restaurants in her home states. Such an amazing lady and story.
I recommend the book highly