March 2, 2017
Sister Rosetta Tharpe has inspired many songwriters and musicians since she let loose her ground-breaking guitar playing and introduced gospel music to a wider audience by performing not only in the churches, but also in the nightclubs. Many of the greats cite her as having a huge influence on their music.
This playlist includes some of Sister Rosetta’s recordings; a fantastic duet called ‘Precious Memories’ featuring Marie Knight – one of Sister Rosetta’s best friends, and from whose point of view my song, ‘Sister Goodbye’ was written; some gospel songs performed by Marie Knight; some songs that Rosetta used to perform such as ‘Up Above My Head’, sung here by the wonderful Rhiannon Giddens, and ‘Didn’t it Rain’ covered here by Johnny Cash, who grew up listening to Rosetta and claimed her to be his favourite singer. There are songs by Aretha Franklin and Isaac Hayes, who also state they were hugely influenced by Rosetta’s guitar playing and performance skills.
I have included two songs written for and inspired by Sister Rosetta: ‘Oh Rosetta’ by Mary Chapin Carpenter, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of touring (and coincidentally our respective Rosetta songs were both recorded by the same engineer/producer, Matt Ross-Spang), and also ‘Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us’ by Alison Krauss, which can be found on the Robert Plant & Alison Krauss collaboration album Raising Sand.
The playlist finishes with my solo a cappella version of ‘Precious Memories’, recorded in one take at Gearbox Studios, London.
I hope you enjoy it.