Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

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Beacon Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 252 pages
7 Reviews
Long before "women in rock" became a media catchphrase, Rosetta Tharpe proved in spectacular fashion that women could rock. Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, in 1915, she was gospel's first superstar and the preeminent crossover figure of its "golden age" (1945–1965). Everyone who saw her perform said she could "make that guitar talk."

Shout, Sister, Shout! is the first biography of this trailblazing performer who influenced scores of popular musicians, from Elvis Presley and Little Richard to Eric Clapton and Bonnie Raitt. An African American guitar virtuoso, Tharpe defied categorization. Blues singer, gospel singer, folk artist, and rock-and-roller, she "went electric" in the late 1930s, amazing northern and southern, U.S. and international, and white and black audiences with her charisma and skill. Ambitious and relentlessly public, Tharpe even staged her own wedding as a gospel concert—in a stadium holding 20,000 people!

Wald's eye-opening biography, which draws on the memories of over 150 people who knew or worked with Tharpe, introduces us to this intriguing and forgotten musical heavyweight, forever altering our understanding of both women in rock and U.S. popular music.

"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."
—Singer-songwriter Joan Osborne

"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 was larger than life—but sometimes, as Gayle Wald tells the story, she was larger than herself. Wald's account of Tharpe's 1951 marriage in Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C.—she signed a contract for the wedding, then went looking for the husband—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

"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

"Shout, Sister, Shout is a revelation, an important document and fascinating story. Praise to Gayle Wald for digging deep into the roots of rock."
—David Ritz, author of Divided Soul: The Life of Marvin Gaye

"Before Mahalia Jackson's name was known and before Edwin Hawkins was born, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a gospel super star. Her unique style of singing, playing guitar and emoting was packaged by Little Richard and the Rolling Stones and led to Rock and Roll. Wald tells 'Sister's' story with understanding, passion and tremendous knowledge of the music and the people. Finally, 'Sister' can rest in peace!"
—Horace Clarence Boyer, author of The Golden Age of Gospel

"Gayle Wald has written a compelling and exciting work about a complicated and underappreciated musical treasure, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Honest, forthright and engaging, Shout, Sister, Shout! will forever change the way we think about the origins of rock and roll."
—Farah Jasmine Griffin, author of If You Can't Be Free, Be a Mystery: In Search of Billie Holiday

"Rosetta Tharpe's story, salvaged here by Wald, a professor of English at George Washington University, is very much a woman's story, refreshingly free of Svengalis and impresarios. Her picaresque journey from Pentecostal child prodigy in Cotton Plant, Ark., to preteen phenom on Chicago's church circuit to Cotton Club darling to one of gospel's first recording starts in constantly surprising." —New York Times Book Review

"Mixing tireless reporting with nuanced musical and cultural insights, Wald's Shout, Sister, Shout! is about as good as musical reparations get."
—Vibe Magazine

Gayle F. Wald is professor of English at George Washington University and the author of Crossing the Line: Racial Passing in Twentieth-Century U.S. Literature and Culture. Wald also wrote the liner notes for a critically acclaimed 2003 Rosetta Tharpe tribute album. She lives in Washington, D.C.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nmele - LibraryThing

I bought my first CD of Sister Rosetta Tharpe's recordings some time ago, impressed by her powerful voice and powerful guitar playing. This biography tells her life story and attempts, with only some ... Read full review

Review: Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

User Review  - Lashawn - Goodreads

Sister Rosetta Tharpe died in 1973 when I was two years old. 39 years later, I am listening to her for the first time in my life. Shout Sister Shout is a wonderful account of Tharpe's life, but also ... Read full review

About the author (2007)

Gayle F. Wald is a professor at George Washington University and the author ofCrossing the Line.She wrote the liner notes for a critically acclaimed 2003 Rosetta Tharpe tribute album. Wald lives in Washington, D.C.

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