Whitney Houston - I Love The Lord
"Sister Rosetta" Tharpe (20 March 1915 – 9 October 1973)
Arkansas native Rosetta Nubin Tharpe was one of gospel music’s first superstars, the first gospel performer to record for a major record label (Decca), and an early crossover from gospel to secular music. Tharpe has been cited as an influence by numerous musicians, including Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Arkansan Johnny Cash.
Rosetta Nubin was born in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County) on March 20, 1915, to Katie Bell Nubin, an evangelist, singer, and mandolin player for the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). No mention is found of her father. Nubin began performing at age four, playing guitar and singing “Jesus is on the Main Line.” By age six, Nubin appeared regularly with her mother, performing a mix of gospel and secular music styles that would eventually make her famous. As a youth, she could sing and keep on pitch and hold a melody. Her vocal qualities, however, paled beside her abilities on the guitar—she played individual tones, melodies, and riffs instead of just strumming chords. This talent was all the more remarkable because, at the time, few African-Americanwomen played guitar.
If you are so inclined, click this link to see Sister Rosetta in action. She was truly incredible.
Thomas Dorsey was born on this date, July 1, in 1899. He was an African American pianist, arranger and composer, known as the “Father of Gospel Music.”
Dorsey composed over 1000 songs in his lifetime, half of which were published. Countless gospel performers achieved their first success singing Dorsey’s music. Born in villa Rica, Georgia, Dorsey was regularly exposed to spirituals and Baptist hymns as a child. In 1908, the family moved to Atlanta, where Dorsey learned to play the piano by watching pianists at a vaudeville theater on Decatur Street. After teaching himself to read music, Dorsey left Atlanta and traveled to Chicago in 1916.
He copyrighted his first blues composition, If You Don’t Believe I’m Leaving, You Can Count the Days I’m Gone, on October 9, 1920. In April 1924, Dorsey became piano player and director of Ma Rainey’s Wild Cat Jazz Band. After suffering from incapacitating depression starting in 1926, Dorsey underwent a spiritual conversion in 1928. [Continue reading at the African American Registry.]
For further reading and research, see also:
The Rise of Gospel Blues: The Music of Thomas Andrew Dorsey in the Urban Church by Michael W. Harris. [book link]
People Get Ready!: A New History of Black Gospel Music by Robert Darden. [book link]