We gave it a B
Imagine a cross between Mahalia Jackson and Chuck Berry. Unlikely? Get thee to YouTube and stream Sister Rosetta Tharpe doing ”Down by the Riverside” — and stay to hear the gospel star shred on a Gibson. In Shout, Sister, Shout!, author Gayle F. Wald makes a good case that Tharpe’s R&B spirituals played a key role in inventing rock: Her ”Strange Things Happening Every Day” does sound rock-ous for 1944, and Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash all worshiped her. But 34 years after her death, Wald can’t quite get at why Tharpe — who led a not entirely pious lifestyle — stuck with gospel while Pentecostal peers ditched it for greener pop pastures.