The Gospel Roots of Rock and Roll

With Good Reason

Sister Rosetta Tharpe attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings that were a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll. She became the first superstar of gospel music and was an early influence on Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Johnny Cash. Chris Kjorness (Longwood University) plays some of her groundbreaking recordings and talks about her legacy.

Also featured: The Broadway musical has often taken up southern themes, from Show Boat and Porgy and Bess in the first half of the twentieth century to Memphis, which hit the Broadway stage in 2009. For all their popularity, Dr. Gary Richards (University of Mary Washington) argues that these musicals nevertheless tend to have a negative view of the South and don’t reflect its diversity today.

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