In a world filled with travesties, let-downs, and injustice, it is nice to see an occasional gamma ray of hope emerge. Finally, after years of narcissistic rock industry navel-gazing, Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) was rightfully inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tonight. Ignored and neglected for decades, Sister Rosetta was a finger-picking, gospel-rocking madhatter on the electric guitar long before there was a Jimi Hendrix or Chuck Berry or Eric Clapton on the scene – all fans, along with Elvis and Johnny Cash. She recorded music that “Billboard” dubbed “rock-and-roll spiritual singing” clear back in 1942. My rockabilly buddies turned me on to her righteous tunes back in the 1980s. Stoked for Sister! In the old days, we used to say that somebody was “big time” and it meant something special. Well, Sister Rosetta was always “big time.” Tonight, however, the Hall of Fame made that distinction official.
Brittany Howard inducted Sister Rosetta into the Hall. “It is a huge honor to induct Sister Rosetta Tharpe to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” she told Rolling Stone prior to the event. “She has been such an inspiration. I hope this spotlight helps people discover what so many of us already know. She is one of the greatest artists of all time.”