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Sing Sister Sing

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Album Review

With a voice capable of shifting from hushed intimacy to roof-raising power and a guitar style that merged country blues with jazz, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a completely unique performer. Primarily a gospel artist, she recognized no difference between the sacred and the personal, singing spirituals with a blues feeling and attacking the blues with gospel fervor. She was instrumental in moving gospel out of the churches and into the clubs and concert halls in the 1930s and 1940s, single-handedly creating the concept of pop-gospel. This collection is drawn from concerts she did in Europe in 1960, and features Tharpe solo, accompanied only by her electric guitar. Highlights include versions of two of her signature tunes, "That's All," originally recorded for Decca Records in 1938, and "Down by the Riverside," released by Decca in 1948. Her arrangement of "Didn't It Rain" is particularly powerful, driven by jazzy swing rhythms on the guitar, and she even strays into near-rockabilly territory with "Can't Sit Down." Sing Sister Sing provides an intimate introduction to this unique artist, whose innovative synthesis of gospel, blues, and jazz is still woefully underappreciated.

Biography

Born: 20 March 1915 in Cotton Plant, AR

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Alongside Willie Mae Ford Smith, Sister Rosetta Tharpe is widely acclaimed among the greatest Sanctified gospel singers of her generation; a flamboyant performer whose music often flirted with the blues and swing, she was also one of the most controversial talents of her day, shocking purists with her leap into the secular market — by playing nightclubs and theaters, she not only pushed spiritual music into the mainstream, but in the process also helped pioneer the rise of pop-gospel. Tharpe...
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