Riffs in the Key of Sister Rosetta Tharpe

February 8th, 2017

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by Damian Fanelli and Jonathan Graham | Photo: Tony Evans/Timelapse Library Ltd./Getty Images

As our sister publication Guitar World wrote a few years ago, you could be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe—or if you’re surprised to hear that to many people, she’s considered “the Original Soul Sister,” and even “the Godmother of Rock and Roll.”

You’d also probably be surprised to hear that GW’s brief feature on Tharpe—which you can check out here—is the most-“liked” and most-shared GuitarWorld.com story of all time.

Sadly, the late Sister Rosetta still isn’t quite a household name; however, as a young woman during the Thirties through the Sixties, her music—especially her live performances—played a major role in the creation of rock and roll, with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and many others citing her as an influence.

Like a lot of the early guitar masters (including Berry, Cliff Gallup, Scotty Moore, Danny Cedrone, Charlie Christian and more), Tharpe’s licks are timeless and still very much “uselful” to younger players looking to expand their musical horizons and master different, perhaps even “off beat” genres.

In this brand-new lesson, Reverb.com’s Joe Shadid demonstrates some of the licks Sister Rosetta used and how to apply them into a traditional gospel chord progression and beyond.

You can read more about Sister Rosetta, who died in 1973 at age 58, right here.