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Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915 – 1973)

Through the month of October, Pride Soc will be using this account to highlight some queer, Black women who may have been sidelined or overlooked by history.

bhmprofilesBlack History Month
Sister Rosetta Sister Rosetta

Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915 – 1973) is credited as the inventor or godmother of Rock n’ Roll. Her love for music was first fostered through her religious expression, she first sang and played her guitar in the church her family attended. As she got older, she began to tour, originally with her mother and then with others, performing as both a solo artist and occasionally in collaborations with groups like the all-white group, the Jordanaires and Cab Calloway, Tharpe brought her show to places like the Cotton Club and Carnegie Hall.

Everyone from Chuck Berry to Elvis was influenced by Tharpe’s musicality. During his induction speech at the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame, the Man in Black, Johnny Cash shouted her out as his favorite singer.

It is very strongly believed that she was some form of queer, having several rumoured relationships with women, most famously Marie Knight with whom she toured and released songs for many years. There is no hard evidence that confirmed her as ‘officially’ sapphic, but her relationships raised eyebrows even in her own era.

Thank you to the Pride Society and Kit Lashmar for supplying the profiles. Head over to their Instagram to see more profiles being published through out October. 


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