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  • Kimberley Guillemet

World Changer of the Month — May 2021: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Hailed as the "Godmother of Rock and Roll," Sister Rosetta Tharpe, was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist, recording artist, and pioneer in her unique guitar technique. Born in Arkansas in 1915 to parents who made ends meet by picking cotton, she was one of the very first recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, which gave rise to the electric blues. Tharpe heavily influenced early Rock and Roll musicians, including Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis. She was a woman performing and recording in what was, and remains, a male-dominated music scene. An undeniable force, Tharpe broke down barriers of sexism and racism with her grace, charm, sharp wit, strong will, incredible work ethic, and supreme talent. The United States Postal Service issued a 32-cent commemorative stamp to honor Tharpe on July 15, 1998. In 2007, she was inducted posthumously into the Blues Hall of Fame. In 2008, a concert was held to raise funds for a marker for her grave, and January 11 was declared Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day in Pennsylvania. To experience one of Tharpe's electric performances, visit: To learn more about her life and legacy, please visit: and


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