New York Times Book Review Editor's Pick: The untold story of 2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Sister Rosetta Tharpe, America's first rock guitar diva
Long before "women in rock" became a media catchphrase, African American guitar virtuoso Rosetta Tharpe proved in spectacular fashion that women could rock. Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, in 1915, Tharpe was gospel's first superstar and the preeminent crossover figure of its golden age (1945–1965). Shout, Sister, Shout! is the first biography of this trailblazing performer who influenced scores of popular musicians—from Elvis Presley and Little Richard to Eric Clapton and Etta James. Tharpe was raised in the Pentecostal Church, steeped in the gospel tradition, but she produced music that crossed boundaries, defied classification, and disregarded the social and cultural norms of the age. Blues singer, gospel singer, folk artist, and rock-and-roller, she "went electric" in the late 1930s, captivating both white and black audiences in the North and South, in the U.S. and internationally, with her charisma and skill. Ambitious and relentlessly public, Tharpe even staged her own wedding as a gospel concert in a stadium holding 20,000 people. Wald's eye-opening biography, which draws on the memories of over 150 people who knew or worked with Tharpe, introduces us to this intriguing and forgotten musical heavyweight who forever altered our understanding of both women in rock and U.S. popular music.