At Richmond Magazine, Craig Belcher writes on the life and musical legacy of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the electric-guitar playing gospel singer widely recognized as the mother of rock ‘n’ roll. While the legendary artist made Richmond, Virginia, her home for over a decade, the city has yet to honor her — her home was seized and sold off to cover unpaid taxes decades ago and she lies in an unmarked grave. Belcher says it’s long past time that Richmond made it up to the late, great recording artist whose blues-infused gospel sound and soulful performances influenced the likes of Chuck Berry, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton.

There’s a two-lane stretch of highway between the Arkansas towns of Cotton Plant and Brinkley that was renamed last year. It’s now the Sister Rosetta Tharpe Highway, in honor of the woman who created rock ‘n’ roll.

Yes, a woman.


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