Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was a pioneering Gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist who attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock accompaniment. She became the first great recording star of Gospel music in the late 1930s and also became known as the "original soul sister" of recorded music.
A number of musicians, ranging from Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to Isaac Hayes and Aretha Franklin, have identified her—or, more particularly, her singing, guitar playing and showmanship—as an important influence on them. Little Richard referred to the stomping, shouting Gospel music legend as his favorite singer when he was a child. In 1945, she heard Richard sing prior to her concert at the Macon City Auditorium and later invited him on stage to sing with her. Following the show, she paid him for his performance. Johnny Cash's daughter Rosanne similarly stated in an interview with Larry King that Tharpe was her father's favorite singer. She was held in particularly high esteem by UK jazz/blues singer George Melly.
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