Aired: February 16, 2013

The Gospel Roots of Rock and Roll

Jazz Archive at Duke University / / CC BY-NC-SA

Sister Rosetta Tharpe attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings that were a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll. She became the first superstar of gospel music and was an early influence on Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Johnny Cash. Chris Kjorness (Longwood University) plays some of her groundbreaking recordings and talks about her legacy. Also featured: The Broadway musical has often taken up southern themes, from Show Boat and Porgy and Bess in the first half of the twentieth century to Memphis, which hit the Broadway stage in 2009. For all their popularity, Gary Richards (University of Mary Washington) argues that these musicals nevertheless tend to have a negative view of the South and don’t reflect its diversity today.


2 Comments on “The Gospel Roots of Rock and Roll”

  1. Tracy M. Hall

    Blown away by the Sister Rosetta Tharpe session. I missed the last portion of the show as I had to meet a friend for dinner but going to go back and listen to the entire show now. I am assuming these are archived? Or no? Again blown AWAY. Hands down super in love with Sister Rosetta Tharpe. What an amazing woman and musician. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with those that had the pleasure to catch this show.

  2. Elliot Majerczyk

    Hi Tracy,

    Thanks for the encouraging words. It was indeed a privilege to showcase her music. All of us at With Good Reason were moved by the artistry of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. You can listen to, or download the show at our website
    Also at the website is a riveting video of Sister Rosetta Tharpe in concert.

    All the best,

    Elliot Majerczyk

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