Tharpe, Sister Rosetta (originally, Nubin, Rosetta)

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Tharpe, Sister Rosetta (originally, Nubin, Rosetta)

Tharpe, Sister Rosetta (originally, Nubin, Rosetta), gospel/jazzsinger, guitarist; b. Cotton Plant, Ark., March 20, 1915; d. Oct. 9, 1973. Her mother, Katie Bell Nubin, was a gospel singer known as “Mother Bell/’ She began singing gospel in church. She signed to Decca records in 1938 and scored gospel hits with “This Train” (which became her signature song), as well as more risque material such as “I Want a Tally Skinny Papa.” During the 1930s and 1940s, she appeared at Cotton Club revues and worked with Cab Calloway. In addition, she recorded with gospel stars, Marie Knight, and her mother. She crossed over from the gospel market to jazz with ease, while simultaneously introducing elements of blues to her recordings and dynamic live shows. She continued to perform and record through the late 1960s.


Sacred & Secular (1941); Sister Rosetta Tharpe/The Sam Price Trio (1958); Gospel Train, Vol. 2 (1960); Live in 1960 (1960); Sister on Tour (1962); Live in Paris: 1964 (1964); Live at the Hot Club de France (1966); Gospel Train (1989); Sincerely, Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1992); Completed Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1938-41) (1996); Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1942-44) (1996); Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1998); Above My Head (1999).

—Music Master/Lewis Porter