c. 1950

Tharpe sings in a studio for a televised performance.

Image: Gerard Landau/INA/Getty Images

Born to Arkansas cotton pickers in 1915, Rosetta Nubin first began singing and playing guitar at the age of four. Soon she was playing in a traveling evangelical troupe alongside her mother and being hailed as nothing short of miraculous.

Rosetta moved to Chicago with her mother and gained significant fame for her rhythmic gospel performances. After a brief marriage to a preacher named Thomas Thorpe, she adopted the stage name Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

She was married several times in her life, but was believed by close friends to be lesbian or bisexual. Read more…

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