Gayle F. Wald is a professor at George Washington University and
the author of Crossing the Line. She wrote the liner notes
for a critically acclaimed 2003 Rosetta Tharpe tribute album. Wald
lives in Washington, D.C.
From the Hardcover edition.
"Sister" Rosetta Tharpe's (1915-73) name has fallen into relative obscurity, despite a successful career that spanned several decades. She was hailed for her distinctive musical innovations and crowd-thrilling performances and was a favorite of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and others. Wald (English, George Washington Univ.; Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture) has drawn from scores of personal interviews and eclectic source materials to chronicle Tharpe's humble beginnings in Cotton Plant, AR, and her rise to fame as an internationally acclaimed singer and guitar phenomenon who fused gospel, rock, folk, and blues into her own signature, groundbreaking style. Wald digs deeply into sensitive personal, cultural, and artistic issues to capture the essence of both the individual and the performer while deftly examining a variety of elements that impacted Tharpe's life and work-from the challenges of being an African American woman to the strictures of the religious environment that gave rise to her gospel sound. This candid and thorough biography will certainly appeal to those familiar with this accomplished performer and will inspire others to seek out her recordings. For circulating libraries as well as music and African American studies collections.-Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Though Elvis, Ginger Baker, Keith Richards and Jerry Lee Lewis paid her tribute, Sister Rosetta Tharpe's vast contribution to American musical history has nearly faded away. With the publication of this entertaining and enlightening biography, Tharpe-who reputedly played her electric guitar "like a man," withstood failed marriages, racial and sexual discrimination plus economic hardships-should receive the recognition she deserves. George Washington University professor Wald (Crossing the Line) has knit together memories of 150 people familiar with Tharpe and her work. Wald's competent research provides readers with the larger historical framework within which Tharpe's contributions can be appreciated. Born in Arkansas in 1915, Rosetta Tharpe became a well-known child performer, honing her gospel guitar style in Pentecostal churches and tent revivals throughout the South. By the late 1930s Tharpe relocated to Chicago, made the life-altering choice of forsaking Pentecostal church performances and embarked on a secular career, eventually signing with Decca Records. During the 1950s Tharpe's career sagged due to changing musical tastes, but a well-timed European tour in 1957 reignited her career. Tharpe courageously cut across racial, musical and sexual boundaries, defying easy categorization, which may have contributed to her obscurity. Wald's biography of this unique performer will hopefully reawaken interest in her life and music. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A book like this is long overdue. Rosetta Tharpe was a major star and a huge influence on the musicians of her day. Listen to her recordings and you can hear all the building blocks of rock and roll. --Joan Osborne, singer-songwriter
"Rosetta was one of the most beloved and influential artists ever in gospel music . . . and she blazed a trail for the rest of us women guitarists with her indomitable spirit and accomplished, engaging style. She has long been deserving of wider recognition and a place of honor in the field of music history." --Bonnie Raitt "Rosetta Tharpe's life is a classic American tall tale, except that it happened, and, in these pages, you are there." --Greil Marcus, cultural critic "Rosetta Tharpe was one of my first influences, one of the first people I heard sing. I'm glad Gayle Wald has done a book on her because people need to know." --Isaac Hayes "Absorbing . . . Very much a woman's story, refreshingly free of Svengalis and impresarios."--Laura Sinagra, New York Times "Wald makes a good case that Tharpe's R&B spirituals played a key role in inventing rock."--Entertainment Weekly "Rosetta Tharpe's life is a classic American tall tale, except that it happened, and, in these pages, you are there."--Greil Marcus, cultural critic and author of Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock'n'Roll Music "Wald's illuminating biography brings the deliciously flamboyant singer to life as gospel's first superstar and a seminal figure . . . Tharpe was a larger-than-life figure in American pop music. May Wald's shimmering book revive her for new listeners." --Booklist "With the publication of this entertaining and enlightening biography, Tharpe-who reputedly played her electric guitar 'like a man, ' withstood failed marriages, racial and sexual discrimination plus economic hardships-should receive the recognition she deserves."--Publishers Weekly "Mixing tireless reporting with nuanced and cultural insights, Wald's Shout, Sister, Shout! is about as good as musical reparations get." --Tony Green, Vibe