Harrisburg, Pa. -- Governor Edward G. Rendell has proclaimed January 11, 2008 as “Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day” in the State of Pennsylvania. On this day, the friends and family of the late Sister Rosetta Tharpe will come together for a benefit concert to honor the gospel music legend at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA.
Performing at this historic concert will be; The Dixie Hummingbirds, Willa Ward with The Johnny Thompson Singers, Marie Knight, The Huff Singers, and Odetta. Proceeds from this event will provide for a memorial at Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s unmarked gravesite in Philadelphia’s Northwood Cemetery, and contribute to Community Music Scholarship Programs at Temple University’s Music Prep and Settlement Music School.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe, gospel music’s first superstar, who influenced an entire generation with her song and spirit, called Philadelphia her home for more than 15 years. In referring to her as a “truly amazing and inspirational musician,” Governor Rendell also added, “Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a pioneering gospel singer, songwriter, and recording artist. She took gospel music into the mainstream with her unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock accompaniment.”
GREETINGS from Governor Edward G. Rendell:
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome everyone gathered tonight at the Keswick Theatre to honor the late gospel musician, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and to pay tribute to this musical legend that influenced an entire generation with her song and spirit. I would also like to give a special thank you to those performing in the benefit concert—The Dixie Hummingbirds, Willa Ward with The Johnny Thompson Singers, Marie Knight, The Huff Singers, and Odetta.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a pioneering gospel singer, songwriter, and recording artist. She took gospel music into the mainstream with her unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock accompaniment. She became the first great recording star of gospel music, first surfacing on the pop charts with her 1938 original composition “This Train.” As she crossed the line between sacred and secular, her witty, idiosyncratic style also left a lasting mark on more conventional gospel artists, such as Ira Tucker Sr., of the Dixie Hummingbirds. Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s soprano singing voice, masterful guitar playing, and commanding stage presence influenced an entire generation of musicians—most notably, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Isaac Hayes, and Etta James.
As Governor and on behalf of all Pennsylvanians, I am proud to join with the friends and family of Sister Rosetta Tharpe in celebration of January 11, 2008, as Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day. I thank everyone gathered in Philadelphia this evening for paying tribute to this truly amazing and inspirational musician.
EDWARD G. RENDELL, Governor