1998 32¢ Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Legends of American Music Series
Issue Date: July 15, 1998
City: New Orleans, LA
Printed By: American Packaging Corp. for Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 10.1 x 10.3
Four of the most influential early gospel artists were honored on a se-tenant - the twelfth issue in the Legends of American Music Series. Mahalia Jackson, Roberta Martin, Clara Ward, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe all performed this spiritual music with reverence and love. The emotion with which they sang helped bring this important genre of music greater respect.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1921-1973) is credited with being the inventor of “pop gospel.” One of the premier gospel singers to perform outside of a church, in 1938 she became the first gospel singer to record with a major company.
The tiny hamlet of Cotton Plant, Arkansas, was Rosetta’s hometown. By the age of six, she had mastered the guitar, an instrument that would later become her trademark. Soon after, she began attending church conventions with her mother, who served as a traveling missionary. They eventually settled in Chicago, Illinois.
Above all the other talents Rosetta possessed, she had showmanship and a magnetic effect on people. Along with singing in the church, Rosetta also appeared in nightclubs and theaters. Her mixture of gospel and bluesy secular music appealed to a variety of fans.
A great soloist, Rosetta was successful in making the transition from an unknown gospel singer to a nationally recognized performer. In the late 1930s her song “Rock Me” became a hit across the country. She experienced success on the Billboard charts many times after. For several years, Rosetta toured the United States and Europe solo and with various quartets.