And this not sums up rightfully her greatness. An amazing voice, a natural guitar player, a stunning talent.
She was not less famous than Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald. She's been one of first women with a tour bus with her name on it printed. Black woman. Two brief and 'unhappy' marriages at the age of 30, then her (so-murmured) love with singer/percussionist Marie Knight, which whom she teamed up in the 40s, recording Decca classic Up Upon My Head. Then, while they were touring in the 1950, Knight's two small children and her mother died in a fire. Traumatized by the loss, Marie drifted away, living Rosetta to carry along alone. Their dream of indipendence together was gone, and less than a year later, Rosetta agreed for a publicy stunt, and staged her third wedding in Washington's huge stadium, with tickets to be sold to fans to attend, the relative recording rights to Decca. There was only a problem: She had no one to marry with. Weeks before the big day, She then opted for a minor musician and her manager, Russell Morrison, and sold 25,000 paying tickets to her wedding. The stadium was packed. Despite any criticism, they remained married for the next 22 years. After the loss of her mother in early 70s, - who represented her reminder of believing in God, - she was diagnosed diabetes.
"Tharpe's performances were curtailed by a stroke in 1970, after which one of her legs was amputated as a result of complications from diabetes. On October 9, 1973, the eve of a scheduled recording session, she died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a result of another stroke." [wiki]
Adored by Bob Dylan, she arranged the first public performance outside of the church for Little Richard, Johnny Cash gave his induction speech at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, he referred to Tharpe as his favorite singer when he was a child.
Here in Manchester, she was 49. I think this changed the life of many.
"She would sing until you cried, and then, she would sing until you danced for joy" - on her tombstone.
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