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Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock and Roll

American Masters at 9 pm Friday, Feb. 22, on WILL-TV

Sister Rosetta Tharpe playing a guitar

Sister Rosetta Tharpe Photo courtesy of Don Peterson/Charles Peterson

Discover the life, music and influence of African-American gospel singer and guitar virtuoso Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973). Southern-born, Chicago-raised and New York-made, “She could play the guitar like nobody else … nobody.”

During the 1940s-60s, Sister Rosetta introduced the spiritual passion of her gospel music into the secular world of rock ’n’ roll, inspiring the male icons of the genre. The flamboyant superstar, with her spectacular playing on the newly electrified guitar, had a major influence on black musicians, including Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Isaac Hayes and Etta James, and also on white stars such as Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

More info and a preview.