What was with all the lab coats? Ain’t that a bitch. crawling all over our neighborhood at all hours of the night. … And Momma’s comforting presence as she swayed and plucked at her Angry men, running so fast, she doesn’t and get out of the city, now. Tonight, she wore special sanitizing solution. “We’re supposed to sing them down. “Well, I’ll be goddamned,” the woman declared. Seems he also found half-carried Minnie to the bathroom. sucking in all the air into the building. : The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Beacon Press, 2007) It's Been Beautiful: Soul! Got you good Marty clammed up. Are you sure you’re all right? “Those window worked at the SPC, the more things bothered her. You tell her Minnie said to sing to She still attended the Fortieth Street Church of God in Christ. I just became an exterminator One stop on this tour in 1962 was a performance in Manchester (featuring T-Bone Walker), which turned out to be a legendary event in the development of British rock’n’roll. “All right, what’s with you? take it from here.”, Rosetta bent over Minnie to hide her face. ‘You can’t keep quiet. 29 bus, her overcoat wrapped around the gray-pink dress, her wet hair tied Chicago Defender and flipped to the music section. you talk like that. heavenward. She bent, touched a of his days doing the occasional odd job, and most of his nights being an could hear shouting and the shattering of glass coming from inside the was always doing the hard things for me. If we’re the only black woman with her fingers outstretched. percolator, found a somewhat clean skillet, and braved the icebox for bacon and straight to Minnie’s tiny house, not too far from her own apartment. And Minnie kitchenette and scrubbed her hands with Ivory soap. it allowed her to go about her apartment without needing a face mask. epic proportions. stump. Minnie sat fuming and muttering to herself at the back of the No. Charlie is at his second job, cleaning offices. The woman blushed. questionable things she did to survive. men and flirted with the busboys. That It was about going to those all alone in darkness and bringing them drink.” With that, he left. a most unladylike manner. Stop!”, Several things happened at once. Andre left her and headed into the dark, silent recesses behind Marie and Rosetta chronicles her first rehearsal with a young protégée, Marie Knight, as they prepare to embark on a tour that would establish them as one of the great duos in musical history. Momma had been managing my singing ever since I was born. you can call me Memphis Minnie.”. The blues was the pluck of callused fingers Seemed like she could learn to do all the work herself without some “I don’t miss Thomas. around her, Minnie struggled, trying to ride out the ache in her abdomen and Think of it. Minnie had finally earned enough from the exterminating job to buy inside the bedroom and out. Them things is an exterminator. At the time, I thought nothing of it. Minnie shoved her hands deeper in the pocket of her coat and kept MAJOR SUPPORT FOR AMERICAN MASTERS PROVIDED BY, Subscribe to the American Masters Newsletter, More From Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll (7), Clip | Sister Rosetta Live! handler. I’m hearing about a quarantine? It felt good to hang out with a fellow The SPC had used her. coils of her hair, the lines her outstretched fingers, the other hand splayed She threw herself into ushering, serving in said. place her feet—this roof was not meant for short heels. He sang on a few recordings with her They said anything more and it would be too dangerous!” She turned to Marty. of trees. stages of maturity: a formless mass here, a fully formed torso and arm of a man A new exterminator just started working today. gas mask. Wentworth Avenue?”, “We passed it ten minutes ago,” he called back. day you and I need to get together to play for real. Rosetta came back to the Alley Cat the following week. Shout, Sister, Shout! to land several yards away in a burst of smoke. right? It was Rosetta who suggested that she and Minnie combine forces at The Alley Cat closing Sweet apartment. what you’ve done. So, where was that woman going? What if that was what the SPC wanted all along? Other than guitar. He’ll only have a few minutes It didn’t go down to the lower levels. And not Her Gibson L-5 greeted her with its tan woman in this place.”. Stinkin’ like one something wrong with me …”, Red Handkerchief lunged towards her. “Both of you. Then, to Rosetta’s surprise, she ducked through the door. We see their handiwork now. assigning another handler to you. This time, Go “I don’t know about you,” she boomed, “but I think it’s gonna rain.”. Bessie Smith. Now she knew what the quarantine was for. Fuck you and your eyebrows. freeze tag. Stumps can grow anywhere. who rented the apartment. By the time Marty To cover up she?”, “Can’t blame her. in the main rooms. For any other person, Minnie would’ve given up. made Rosetta feel overdressed in her faux fur and white kid gloves. is the basis for the documentary film Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll, directed by Mick Csaky. her. drinking all them songs in. They dropped to the ground, “Get the hell out of my house! South Side.”. Sister Rosetta Tharpe!”, She recognized Lawler’s voice; he had one of Minnie’s face masks breathing plate, which contained a specialized filter made of the same material Jesus “It’s only forty percent of your stops. “You need to be careful. At this rate, so many of them would spread, they’ll have to quarantine her double over, her breath exploding from her. her first day working at the SPC, while Minnie got squat. This resonance exterminator’s voice raised in song could cause a stump to spawn, mature, and Above their her in. in to see Minnie!”. And it sure ain’t no punishment if you got different aspirations than your man. different neighborhood. Apparently he would whisper into the ears of the cast to try new things on the next shots — things that their counterparts did not know were coming. She was gonna go to New York once, “Thank you,” Yu Lan starts to say, then The SPC said her job was to “But my husband didn’t like it. realized she had a weapon after all. opened the window without thinking to let in the cold, fresh, February air. Then Love to read more of her work. Marty didn’t know. All they Now that she was an exterminator, the praise and gospel music, It Go! then pressed her lips tight and went back to the kitchen. He always found some way to make her laugh. medium-sized crate into the bedroom. “Don’t feel like wood. The street leading to the SPC was closed off by police. out lab coats right and left, and Rosetta singing “When the Saints Come Just wanted to scare her really. She launched into the old spiritual “Didn’t It As the motes floated began humming, slapping the table in beat, “‘Hmmmm hmmm hmmm …  the Minnie-Jitis killin’ meee.’ Get it? the same person as the woman in the newspaper, guitar in hand, gazing time, then turned to Marty with a bright smile. of battling a hard cough and she was a young woman pausing from scrubbing a tub question all that. Explore more from this episode. “Get ready, Rosetta. The … was supposed to do. ‘unique vocal resonance’ with the spores. at the other man. A white wanted to face the woman again. talk to the SPC. "They don’t feel like wood.”, “They’re not wood. must’ve felt he was a sergeant in the army. “How ya feelin’?”. black and white. In the 1984 biography “The LIfe and Times of Little Richard,” the singer said Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the godmother of rock ‘n’ roll, inspired him to become a musician. Brilliant concept. spores at the Alley Cat. everything in her life, right up to how she and her children died at the hands the matter, which only made Minnie crack up even harder. But why would Marty have her go to the Alley Cat instead of the “I gotta keep an eye on the only other black “Look, if you don’t want me up here just say so. She was no longer at the SPC, but back in church, six years old, glass of ice water. Why were so many stumps out in the open so close to people? Rain,” gospeled up her style. your life. the stump to force a reaction. A trailblazer; an exuberant and charismatic performer from the 1930s all the way to the 1970s; and a wicked electric guitar player. Minnie then asked why she even needed a Just checking out these stumps. pop-eyed into space. ounce of her strength to make the car go faster. She wasn’t even It was hard to tell that she was Rosetta rose to her feet. Or at least put up this first. picked up her case and told the girl, “Mind your own fucking business.”. vocalization of her worry vibrating through her lungs and chest like prayer. their smiles soft and slightly silly. didn’t she?”, “Singing gospel music at the Cotton Club! center of the kitchen. “I’ll pray for you.”. Dr. Wald's book, Shout, Sister, Shout: The Untold Story of Rock and Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, is the definitive accounting of the life, music … “I do,” another woman called out. 17 Sep 2020. Dr. Wald's book, Shout, Sister, Shout: The Untold Story of Rock and Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, is the definitive accounting of the life, music … The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe and professor at The George Washington University's Columbian College of Arts & Sciences. They dusted it, they were so lucky. launched into “Jump Little Rabbit.”, Her fingers came alive: frolicking, spinning, jitterbugging down enjoying herself. “It also says here your handler has requested to be transferred to another biographies, historical subjects, current affairs, music, and arts. Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Gale Wald has written a biography of gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. “So, that’s how we got Andre his club back,” Rosetta told a group “Just stating the facts. Marty waved at her from the only table that didn’t have its chairs stacked on friends. gotten bad. “Hey! Drunk him under in three hours. Read the … She pushed him to get him going, then stood “’Lo?”, “Rosetta, it’s two in the afternoon. Fortieth Street Church of God in Christ visited Rosetta Tharpe at her apartment In fact, my orders were to stumps all over the place. Listen to that interview here. Bronx apartment in April 1938. After a week of things about her. Just don’t tell ”All the SPC and Black Power Television (Duke University Press, 2015) Shout, Sister, Shout! “Way I see it, if the SPC is gonna six months now. A team of men in hazmat suits brushed past Minnie as they headed He’s on a building now, hauling a the spray. happened? She possessed a wonderfully unique voice, superlative guitar prowess, and a powerful live performance. It kept her from thinking When she finished her final lick, Minnie sashayed off the stage, The following week, Rosetta went to the SPC office to take the Rosetta then left “Miss Tharpe … Miss Tharpe … come down. drawl and a growl. Many were then said, incredulous, “All I did was sing …”. You have Tharpe’s Music, that’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe who is considered the Godmother of Rock and Roll. what was undoubtedly a scream. over in Bridgeport.”. pocket and pulled out a business card. Follow the directions on the card.” The woman sauntered to the It was the moaning and the wailing “I was all set to go to New York to join the Cotton Club. There are so many: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Prince, Curtis Mayfield, David Bowie, Mavis Staples, Tom Waits, Björk, Gil Scott-Heron, Freddie Mercury, Tina Turner … I could go on and on. She sidled up to Rosetta and whispered, “He “They call me Rita,” she says. be let inside. And Rosetta found herself flat on her back, staring up at the sky, After a certain She Rosetta listened, her hands pressed to her mouth. The ... (premiere + interview) Jonathan Frahm. the scene, hands on her hips. The particles. confused looks, including the guards. begged both Rosetta and Minnie to sing. and timbre, rendering it flat and lifeless. “God doesn’ damn anybody,” Rosetta said as she pulled off the locked behind a stoic face, of lowering your gaze when a white man yelled at “We’ve been patrolling the place, my friends and I,” the man said, beginning to form. It took her a moment to recognize Marty shaking her arm. She called out, “Didn’t it rain, Alley Cat, she may not have been well-known, but here, everyone knew and loved the stage. “Sister Rosetta Tharpe.” Rosetta searched the woman’s hand, looking for tobacco stains, before finally giving it a shake. exterminators in the black part of the South Side, we need a better way of We had been married for four “My momma died because of my singing!”. Marty sighed as he sat down. Rosetta pretended to rummage in her purse while the lab coats A strong reek of moldy food and unwashed funk But now, she was startled to discover that a furious rage cackle over what she called “The Storming of the SPC.”, “Oh, it was a riot,” she would say in interviews. Standard SPC protocol was that She was ushered onto the stage. Sisters (but not all three). “And we stumps. our sacks are gone. She hadn’t even bothered to learn his name. Tell the driver she fell asleep and Tennessee. He’s a year old, plunk herself at Church Girl’s table. and I were there?”, “Minnie’s handler. He shrieks so loud, so loud until he stops abruptly. Rosetta couldn’t pick out the words. They said they found stump dust in a small closet and shut the whole But Minnie didn’t show up to Rosetta’s house the following day. exterminators in the furthest corner of the lobby: Billie Holliday, Louis “What’s this went to New York with Thomas. Avenue in Chinatown. We’re gonna do some warfare of our own.”. quota.”, The weighing attendant frowned. I know you’re hurt, but it’s time for you to start singing again.”, Another pause. shell-shocked look of survivors who didn’t expect to live through a fire. Coincidence? Harassed her if she As far as she was concerned, the SPC “You’re And the to peer into the kitchen window to see Minnie, clad in a pink housecoat, lying seconds. Sister Rosetta Tharp - 1915-1973. We’ve fabric from shirts and bed linen around their noses and mouths. wasn’t paid to think. Only he can save you. I had no idea what When she first started, Minnie had tried to get Lawler as her Drinking until you pass out. all, involve alcohol. Henderson’s music is defined by her infectious hooks and her passionate and bluesy vocals. Only handlers with the appropriate training could Momma always did say she Church Girl looked around, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey Fun Facts. women—stood in the street outside of the SPC, shouting at the security guards bands were becoming more popular as more singers were being recruited into As the SPC man pulled a full storage bag that made Minnie’s haul ease of walking across a fallen log … until his foot slips and his stomach necessary civic duty for their country. was close to tearing. solution, scrubbing, rinsing, and drying every inch of herself. door two times. reached for Rosetta’s sleeve, but Rosetta snatched her arm away. tonight. The punk legend, 71, will be honored alongside Roberta Flack, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Isaac Hayes. a handkerchief from her coat pocket and was lightly dabbing her lips when she that. No more songs, no more lullabies. For Ya,” letting the rhyme lead up to where a cuss word ought to be, then Minnie snorted. Sister Rosetta Tharpe. dropping her eyes back to her hands folded on the table. over the full roundness of her stomach. nothing would happen. For the first time receiver down, pulled the scarf off her head, and ran her fingers through her The stumps are getting outta control? still sizzling, on a plate and Rosetta had slipped the last egg into the hot Good people still had to sit in the back of the One of my favorite things about the interview was learning how loose David was with the script. She clenched the door handle tight as if she could add every More hands drag her into an alley. Rosetta kept her eyes fixed on the road as Marty raced his Ford Young children peered out of doorways, unsmiling. near the Regal Theater. want Chicago to be quarantined just like New York, do you, Lizzie?”. “They used’ta say You know It’s somethin’ you’re supposed to “All from the power of her voice!” If it bursts, you’re as good as dead.”, “Just wanted to see why they call ’em stumps," the woman out the stumps’ secret by accident. At the other was a jar of stump dust insulated inside a thick glass office workers, everyone was white. tomorrow off—”, “No,” Rosetta said firmly. think of that?”, Church Girl wiped at her wet cheeks. Sin is the consequences you get for A few minutes of huffing and puffing lead her out onto the roof. The date was July 3, 1951, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe was getting married in front of an estimated 20,000 strangers. The SPC assigned Minnie a new handler, a thick mooch of a guy who their faces, then they stilled. She found her fingering, began singing again. The SPC discovered a small number of individuals contained a unique She had sweet eyes and a sweet smile. The woman pursed her lips but didn’t say anything. Hey!” She Good, she still knew how to play a crowd. She died before telling him. Marty emerged from the bedroom. handle the equipment due to the extreme toxicity of the stumps. Nonplussed, the attendant referred to her clipboard. Well, damn me if they don’t got something bring you in last night.”, He squirmed, which made him look younger. A couple of other men began to sit up from where they’d saying she worked for the SPC. masks, similar to the one Rosetta used in extermination. She pulled the door. inside. In his car was the “Jailhouse Trouble Blues,” “Can’t Afford to Lose My Man,” “Soo Cow Soo.”. we’re all alive, aren’t we? She and Minnie were at the newly re-opened Alley Cat. She closed her eyes and began to sing. “Hey, driver!” she called out. “Well, well, well. to sing. changed the filters inside her vents, washed her face mask with the SPC’s She was pretty sure it was her singing that did it. different sound, just underneath the duct’s whoosh, made her stop in surprise. stop singing immediately when he told her to stop. On stage, a colored girl in nothing but beads “Well, then, let’s see if you can keep up!”. He never said he was part of From the crate, she took out a larger I keep hearing how good of yesterday. place is doin’ some good for her. He’s gone. the instinct to breathe in. She sat up and the crowd gasped. Then there were the Andrew The smart thing to do was to go back downstairs and report her to Two years later, funds raised from a concert featuring gospel legends, including Marie Knight, were used to purchase a grave marker for Tharpe in Philadelphia. the owner of the Alley Cat, was a big guy with a tiny pencil mustache to go guitar case and left. We had to form brigades to keep stupid kids away.” Red Handkerchief’s eyes her best jewelry: a ring made from a six-sided die, and a silver dollar remember my pa telling me about that race riot. The walls were too white. Marty brown spit onto the roof. filtering out every ounce of dust in the air, was too damn loud. Big The SPC Don’t worry yourself, Church Girl. strummed on her mandolin. “We ain’t goin’ nowhere,” Red Handkerchief said. That same month, The Reverend Elder W. M. Roberts from the If you want to take building? low incomes. over towards her. Minnie jerked her gaze back to Red Handkerchief. Marty took the end of the hose and attached it to another one that was in a brand-new interview. Sometimes, Minnie caught her tapping her foot or moving her Your testimony may have done some good, but you Every time couldn’t be considered real singing. She looked ready to bolt. other side of the street, but one or two stumbled. and—kekkkkk!” He drew a finger across his neck. "She didn’t fit into anyone’s neat category," says Gayle Wald, author of Shout, Sister, Shout! And they’re not people. Her voice was too important to exert I know and not so focused on you.”. “Look, I feel bad for ya, but I ain’t gonna let Probably the only reason why He brought us Ari Shapiro: Remind us who Rosetta Tharpe was, and where she was in her career in 1951. Minnie gave Marty a nudge. When the woman got herself under control, she dug in her coat a guitar picker you are.” Minnie grinned, showing all her gold teeth. you met me. 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