collapse

* Member Info

 
 
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

* Like Us on Facebook

The rough side of the mountain is the best side to be on. Because, on the slick side, if you slip, you gonna fall all the way down. But on the rough side, there's a ledge here, so if I slip up, I got something to hold on to. Ha ha! - Doctor G B Burt, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16662606

Author Topic: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS  (Read 1627 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline ScottN

  • Member
  • Posts: 309
Re: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS
« Reply #15 on: February 24, 2013, 11:27:24 AM »
I thought it was great for what it was, a one hour general introduction to SRT with the marketing use of "rock and roll" to try and drive some interest in watching it from the general population.  They probably tested "The Guitar Evolution Of Sister Rosetta Tharpe" and 4 out of 5 dentists in the test group fell asleep (the fifth was a weenie) :-)

It had the obligatory big star endorsement of Dylan prattling on for half a minute or so.  I think it approached the rock an roll angle multiple times through her impact on Elvis as well as on Cash and Perkins (none of whom made themselves available for comment...).

I'm with Stuart, I hope someone puts together the resources to do a six part multi- hour examination that could go further in depth on her guitar style but I doubt I'll be holding my breath until it comes out.

Overall I thought it was well worth watching, an easy 4 out of 5 stars.

Thanks,
Scott

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2764
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS
« Reply #16 on: February 24, 2013, 03:50:08 PM »
Forwarded by a fellow member:

THERE WAS SOMETHING WITHIN HER
Neil Slaven enjoys a story well-told but resists the author's siren song.

Those who enjoy a tactile experience with books will know the feeling when the thought arises, I'm going to like this book. That was the case here, despite the smallness of Sister Rosetta's name on the cover, rated fourth behind the title and its carpetbagging caption. Untold the story may be but such a preposterous claim depicts the good Sister in a role she never played. Rock-and-roll evolved during her career and she had the good sense to align herself with it - that's the extent of it. Any other assertion would have pissed her off. And I'd love to have been there to hear her say so.
 
Then again, she wasn't above a little mythologising to buff her own image. Hers was a commercial talent; she would never have laid siege to the stately bulwarks of Mahalia Jackson's pious citadel. Rosetta Tharpe got down with her god wherever it suited her and the force of her personality was tangible. Nevertheless, some experience of an endoscopy is required to swallow some of the claims made early on. We learn she had a 'jaw-dropping talent', that her 'particular genius defied categorisation', that her 1945 hit, 'Strange Things Happening Every Day' 'may well be the first rock-and-roll song'. Most indigestible of all, 'it's hard to conceive of as seminal a figure as Elvis . . . without first imagining Rosetta'.
 
This is rodomontade of a bipolar dimension, inducing the reader's wilful disbelief before the story has even started. Luckily, it becomes sufficiently engrossing for such nonsense to be absent for pages at a stretch. The author has certainly done her research, conducting 104 interviews over four years. Extracts from the Sister's interviews are included but they're hardly revelatory. The 'difficult' areas of her life are covered by the observations and opinions of her friends and fellow artists.     
 
Katie Harper gave birth to a girl child on March 20, 1915 on the Tilman Cooperwood farm, outside Cotton Plant, Arkansas. She was variously known as Rosa, Rosie Etta or Rosabell in her formative years. Her father was Willis B. Atkins, a guitar-playing farmer; according to Marie Knight, Katie 'never had the pleasure of actually being married to him'. Rosetta and her mother arrived in Chicago in 1921, by which time she reckoned, 'I was six years old and I already played the guitar pretty well'. Wielding an instrument bigger than herself, Rosetta enchanted those who heard her but such a precocious talent met with some resistance from middle-class black Chicagoans who preferred their piety with pageantry, in emulation of their white counterparts. (Read Michael Harris's 'The Rise Of Gospel Blues' on this.)
 
From the late 1920s, Rosetta honed her skills on the gospel circuit, where grabbing souls was the order of the day. In November 1934, she married Thomas J. Tharpe, an itinerant preacher. Those who knew her referred to this union as 'a business transaction', establishing a pattern where, 'Rosetta, however savvy, allowed men to use her for their profit'. Four years later, she went secular; moved to New York, got an agent, a recording contract and appeared on the stage of the Cotton Club. No one seems to know how or why this happened - Wald certainly doesn't. Her first session in October 1938 included 'Rock Me', a repertoire mainstay which she sang at John Hammond's 'From Spirituals To Swing' two months later. The Chicago Defender called her 'a swingcopated manipulator of loud blue tones', as she began a series of tours with Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Andy Kirk and Lucky Millinder.
 
She divorced Tharpe in April 1943, only to tie the knot with Foch P. Allen in St. Louis in June. 'Strange Things Happening Every Day' was a hit in the spring of 1945, spending eleven weeks in the race chart, peaking at No. 2 in late April. The following year, she met Marie Knight, then sharing the stage with Mahalia Jackson at Harlem's Golden Gate Auditorium. Wald refers to their meeting as 'the acoustic version of love at first sight'. Whatever went on in private, the Tharpe/Knight partnership was an immediate success. There are four pages of reflections on lesbianism. While Knight denies any rumours, one man puts his head above the parapet, claiming to have seen Tharpe, Knight and the Prophetess Dolly Lewis 'in flagrante delicto' during the 1951 'honeymoon tour' after the Sister's third marriage.
 
Ah yes, that third marriage, on July 3, 1951 to Russell Morrison, another chancer, attended by 20,000 paying guests, presided over by Rev. Samuel Kelsey and recorded by Decca. Before plighting their troths, he asserts, 'I know how to marry people. I know how to put them together. If they don't stay together, it's not my fault.' Before the event, Morrison had boasted it was 'a toss-up between Rosetta and Mahalia'. As someone commented, 'He was the slickest dude you ever wanted to meet'. Meanwhile, Mahalia Jackson's star was in the ascendant and Rosetta, we're told, 'found herself overshadowed . . . by the very force of the rock-and-roll music she had helped to unleash upon the world'. In the real world, her fame had evaporated and it seemed Bubba Russell might have to get a job. Her house in Richmond, Va. was repossessed in 1957 and the Morrisons went to live in Philadelphia's Carlyle Hotel.
 
The same year, out of the blue, Chris Barber, a long-term fan, offered Rosetta a three-week tour of Britain, against his booking agent's advice. From the first night in Birmingham, any fears were proved groundless. In the space of one song, Rosetta had the audience in the palm of her hand and the night ended with several encores. Backstage, Rosetta turned to Ottilie Patterson and said, 'You ain't nothing but a white n****r!' Shocked at her presumption, Rosetta was relieved when Patterson burst into laughter and replied, 'You've given me the best compliment I've ever had'. This tour of Britain and the Continent and further visits in 1958 and 1960 restored Rosetta's confidence and also her popularity at home. Ginger Baker backed her on a tour of Scandinavia but she isn't offered as an influence on Cream. The 1964 American Folk, Blues and Gospel Caravan tour and tv show gets comprehensive coverage (see the Letters page in B&R 218).
 
As the 1970s arrived, the pace of her touring was slowed by a diagnosis of diabetes. Neglect induced gangrene in one of her legs, which had to be amputated. As soon as she'd recovered, Russell had her back on the gospel circuit. Friends were critical of her husband's need for his wife to provide him with pocket change. Sister Rosetta played her last gig, at New York's Lincoln Center, on July 26, 1972. She was due to make a new album in the autumn of 1973 but suffered a massive stroke on the morning of the recording, October 8, and died the next day.

Wald erupts once more in her Epilogue, railing against history: 'Where are the legacies of Rosetta Tharpe? Where are the commercially successful black women rockers?' What she can't accept is that her subject had her day and her fame and when the one died, so did the other. That doesn't diminish the larger-than-life character she projected on stage, nor the effect she had on those who saw her. Perversely, trying to make her something she wasn't would diminish her legacy, but having set course for that precipice, the author (Thelma or Louise?) skids to a halt before making a death-leap. In the end, Gayle Wald does justice to Sister Rosetta Tharpe and that makes this a book worth reading.

Neil Slaven was reading:
SHOUT, SISTER, SHOUT!
The Untold Story of ROCK-AND-ROLL TRAILBLAZER
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Gayle F. Wald
Beacon Press, Boston, 2007; ISBN 978-0-8070-0983-0; hardback; 252pp; $25.95

Blues & Rhythm April 2007

Offline Stuart

  • Member
  • Posts: 2764
  • "The Voice of Almiqui"
Re: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2013, 04:26:34 PM »
Director Mick Csaky on making ?The Godmother of Rock & Roll?

http://video.pbs.org/video/2331246633

Definitely worth watching. You can draw your own conclusions. However, in all fairness, his heart is certainly in the right place in spite of the film's perceived shortcomings, IMHO.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 04:32:08 PM by Stuart »

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2604
    • MuckOVision
Re: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2013, 04:56:07 PM »
Obviously a well meaning and sincere fellow...now I feel bad...... :'(
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline bnemerov

  • Member
  • Posts: 236
Re: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS
« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2013, 08:29:31 PM »
well meaning, no doubt; but he sure reminds me of one of the characters from "Good Fellas": Johnnie Two-Times, Two-Times.

best, best,
bruce
« Last Edit: February 24, 2013, 08:30:59 PM by bnemerov »

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 7034
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS
« Reply #20 on: February 25, 2013, 05:11:01 AM »
Quote
This is rodomontade of a bipolar dimension, inducing the reader's wilful disbelief before the story has even started.

In case anyone else was wondering, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rodomontade

Offline Rivers

  • Tech Support
  • Member
  • Posts: 7034
  • I like chicken pie
Re: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS
« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2013, 07:45:11 PM »
Watched the PBS doco a couple of nights ago, enjoyed it. I came away knowing more about Rosetta's life than I had beforehand and I can't think of anything that really jarred, unusual for a doco. So that was good. How she might have influenced later music are apparent from her recordings. The lack of the obligatory stoned-out Keith Richards interview did not detract. Much as I love Keef!  :P

Offline Mr.OMuck

  • Member
  • Posts: 2604
    • MuckOVision
Re: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS
« Reply #22 on: February 28, 2013, 08:53:40 PM »
Glad you enjoyed it Rivers. I have a bit of a problem when people in discussion, writing or documentaries put forth the important idea of influence in a particular art form and then leave me hanging by failing to map out the specifics, the avenues of descent. Isn't it important to know when and how Chuck Berry heard SRT? Was that an AHA moment for him? He mentions T-Bone Walker in his bio, but as I recall, not a mention of SRT. Is that a deliberate concealment of an influence too close to comfort? I'd guess probably so, but we'll never know. Another interesting issue not covered in the docu. is the place in general culture of the Spiritual. There was certainly a concerted effort by musicians from Stephen Foster, Dvorak, Gershwin, Copeland, Bernstein et al not to mention Marian Andersen and Paul Robeson, The Fisk Jubilee singers all the way up to Odetta, and many African American Opera singers, Jesse Norman, Leontyne price, Kathleen Battle etc. to embed the Spiritual as an high art form within the western musical canon. How a documentary can be made about SRT without this essential background piece and how she placed within it, or didn't is curious nes't cafe? My hunch is that she was probably a prime driver in the efforts of her more high toned colleagues.


But yes, in general we're better off with this film than without it.


My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision


Offline swampman

  • Member
  • Posts: 37
  • It's never too late to have a happy childhood!
Re: Sister Rosetta Tharpe PBS
« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2013, 02:01:53 PM »
She sure had some great guitars.

That didn't take long.  BTW, if I can take time off, I will try and be in PT this year.  It has been too long.

 


SimplePortal 2.3.7 © 2008-2021, SimplePortal