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Whose Your Momma: Rosetta Tharpe

Many people will say Rosetta Tharpe, or Sister Rosetta, was the precursor to Rock and Roll but most will fall just shy of saying she is the Mother of the musical art form.

Despite the fact that she is a pioneer who influenced everyone from Chuck Berry to Elvis Presley to Keith Richards, though she, “played rock’n’roll way before anyone else”, the role of the creator has not been widely bestowed.

As both the originator of pop gospel and a populariser of the electric guitar, Sister Rosetta brought an emotionally charged dimension that was foundational to rock’n’roll.

“She was playing rock’n’roll way before anyone else,” said keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith in a 2018 Richmond Magazine profile.

When compared to male guitarists of her day, she’d proclaim, “Can’t no man play like me. I play better than a man”. And she did, better than any man, even the ones she inspired but did not get the proper credit.


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