Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a singer, songwriter, and musician widely regarded as "The Godmother of Rock and Roll". Titans such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan all cited Tharpe as an influence on their work.
In the 1930s and 40s, she attained considerable popularity with her gospel recordings, characterized by a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic accompaniment that helped create the genre of rock and roll.
Tharpe was a pioneer with her guitar technique and was among the first popular recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, presaging the rise of electric blues.
Her 1945 hit "Strange Things Happen Everyday" featured Tharpe's vocals and electric guitar with bass, drums, and Sammy Price on piano. It was the first gospel record to appeal to non-gospel audiences, hitting no. 2 on the Billboard "race records" chart, the term then used for what later became the R&B charts. The recording is frequently cited as a notable forerunner of the rock and roll style.
In 2018, Tharpe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In the 1950s, an era when anti-LGBT discrimination was widespread and institutionalized, Tharpe was as openly bi as possible given the circumstances.