Friday, June 24, 2016

A Different Kind of Gospel Music

Summer series "Friday's Summer Fruits" with Donna Oswalt
"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good..." Psalm 34:8

By subscription, I receive emails during the week from Delanceyplace.com describing themselves as very simply a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context. The exerts are from random books; some days the topic interests me and other times not so much. A few weeks ago the selection was about Rosetta Tharpe, who some consider the first rock and roll guitarist and a women no less!
Sister Rosetta Tharpe not only could sing electrifying gospel but what an acoustic guitar she could play. [Jazz promoter] John Hammond explained, 'She is one of the first to use it for melody-plucked lines. Her technically astonishing lead breaks invented the rock and roll guitar.' (click for full article)
Born in 1915 in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, she frequently accompanied her mother as she preached. Rosetta, a "big attraction", sang and played the guitar. Very talented, but in some ways, her music style was scandalous in many religious circles while secular audiences heard "blues-oriented gospel" for the first time.
"Rosetta Tharpe was a pioneer. When she sang gospel on a secular stage she scandalized the sanctified church. They never forgave her. Religious folk opposed singing in cabarets; it was synonymous with the Devil, God's enemy. They told Sister Tharpe that either she serve the devil or God. She would respond that the Lord knew her heart and it wouldn't lead her astray. She was the first gospel singer to sign with a major recording company and to appear in a nightclub -- mine."  (click for full article)
Today, contemporary worship music is both familiar and common place within Christian circles; new Christian music rattled churches a few decades ago and still is considered not sacred enough by some. I marvel at Rosetta's unashamed offering of the Gospel, her willingness to share her soul despite ridicule and lack of acceptance. Take a moment to watch a video of her in 1960! Radical for the times! As you listen, ask yourself if you are ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you share Him today? - dho

**Link to other videos of Rosetta Tharpe