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Sister Rosetta Tharpe was such a beautiful light and for her to have such faith in her music and her spirit and no doubt to see a lot of darkness, there's a lot to be learned from that. I think there's a lot to learn from an artist like her who started doing it at five or six years old and then did it throughout her whole career and really had a passion for it. She just had a God-given gift.

– Susan Tedeschi

 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a pivotal figure in American 20th century music, though until recently her legend had languished in semi-obscurity. The pioneering gospel/blues singer, extraordinarily gifted electric guitarist and proto rock ‘n’ roll star has been rediscovered of late with a well-deserved induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018 with Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard doing the honors. Thereafter, her influence at the dawn of the rock era on none other than Elvis Presley was acknowledged with a searing portrayal by Yola in Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 Elvis feature film. All of that posthumous notoriety has earned her the title “The Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” with her undeniable influence acknowledged by rock cognoscenti everywhere. 

 

This coming Record Store Day, April 20, will see the release of a limited edition 2-LP set (also available on CD and digital download on April 26) titled Live in France: The 1966 Concert in Limoges, a 21-track album of newly discovered and previously unreleased performances recorded on November 11, 1966, at the Grand Theater in Limoges, the city in west-central France best known for porcelain production. Having been accepted and celebrated by audiences in France and throughout Europe, she toured the continent relentlessly in the ‘60s. Her 1966 performance in Limoges was in fact her third concert there over the years. It was captured on tape that night by the Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF) and discovered seven years ago by Zev Feldman, the archivist Stereophile dubbed “The Indiana Jones of Jazz,” and who was recently profiled in The New Yorker, for his uncanny ability to uncover heretofore “lost” music recorded decades ago by seminal and critically acclaimed artists. Feldman found the Limoges recording while doing a search of the INA (Institut national de l’audiovisuel) France archives and realized he had discovered something very special: an audio document of the formidable American gospel great playing solo, accompanying herself on her electric guitar. Feldman commented, "Sister Rosetta Tharpe has been a towering and trailblazing figure in music even decades and decades after her passing in 1973, and her influence is still being felt to this day. This recording has never been released before and I consider it a very special time capsule of a document that transports you back to a wonderful performance in the mid-1960s in France."

 

Feldman worked tirelessly to put the music he’d discovered in a setting befitting the brilliance of the artist and the significance of his find. To that end, Live in France is offered in a lavishly packaged set with rare photos, meticulous art direction and voluminous liner notes by Tharpe experts as well as commentary from contemporary musicians who are in awe of Tharpe, her talent and ongoing legacy. The album is being released on Feldman’s new imprint Deep Digs, in partnership with Elemental Music.

The set features a lengthy essay by Tharpe biographer Gayle Wald, author of Shout, Sister Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Wald wrote, “Sister Rosetta was the first guitar heroine of rock & roll. Her heartfelt gospel folksiness gave way to her roaring mastery of her trusty Gibson Les Paul Custom, which she wielded on a level that rivaled the best of her male contemporaries.” Also included are descriptive notes, translated from French by Jean Buzelin, author of Sister Rosetta Tharpe: La femme qui inventa le Rock ‘n’ Roll. He chronicles her exhaustive touring in Europe and her special relationship with French audiences. Her influence on British guitar players including Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton is widely acknowledged with all the overmentioned having seen her perform when she toured with Muddy Waters and other American blues greats. There is also a heartwarming narrative by Donna Rhea Hamilton (grandmother of Tedeschi Trucks Band drummer Isaac Eady), at whose childhood home in Tullahoma, TN Tharpe was a house guest when she came to town – by Greyhound Bus – to perform at the AME Church there in the late ‘60s. She recalls Sister Rosetta as a “sweet, sweet soul, down to earth just like normal people,” and helping her mother cook for the family.

Beyond those exhaustive notes are comments from Susan Tedeschi, ZZ Top’s Billy F Gibbons, Shemekia Copeland, Henry Rollins, Brian Ray and Bonnie Raitt who wrote, “Rosetta was one of the most beloved and influential artists ever in gospel music...and she blazed a trail for the rest of us women guitarists with her indomitable spirit and accomplished, engaging style. She has long been deserving of wider recognition and a place of honor in the field of music history.” Susan Tedeschi also offered, “I don't know of anybody really who plays exactly like she does, but I can hear her influence in people from Little Richard to Elvis Presley, to Clapton, to Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, a lot of different people. You can hear her in their playing, so when you hear that rock and roll thing, it really kind of comes from her.” Billy F Gibbons commented, “As a guitarist I have to celebrate her six-string slingin’ . . . nobody had done anything like that before and is due a debt of gratitude for being the soulful pioneer she was.” Shemekia Copeland commented, “If Rosetta had been a Mister instead of a Sister, she would have been as famous as Little Richard, Chuck Berry or even Elvis. In fact, she inspired all of them. She was that original. And she’s an inspiration to me every time I perform. Sister Rosetta rocked!!!!” That assertion was seconded by Henry Rollins who stated, “Sister Rosetta rocks absolutely.”

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Live in France: The 1966 Concert in Limoges

SKU: 8435395503690
$19.98Price
Shipping 4/22/2023
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    Sister Rosetta Tharpe – guitar and vocals

     

    Recorded on November 11, 1966 at the Grand Theater in Limoges, France

    1. This Train (4:25) – R. Tharpe
    2. When My Life Work Is Ended (3:45) – W.W. Harris, A.J. Bell              
    3. Didn't It Rain (1:49) – Trad. - arr. R. Tharpe
    4. Mother's Prayer (5:26) – J.W. Van de Venter
    5. Up Above My Head, I Hear Music in the Air (Trad. - arr. R. Tharpe) (2:20)
    6. Moonshine (2:52) - R. Tharpe
    7. Sit Down (2:23) – N. Sherman - J. Keller                                            
    8. Down by the Riverside (3:33) – Trad.                                                  
    9. When The Saints Go Marching In (2:23) – Trad. - arr. R. Tharpe        
    10. Joshua Fought The Battle of Jericho (2:18) – Trad. - arr. R. Tharpe                                       
    11. Jesus Met the Woman at the Well (4:29) – J.W. Alexander, K. Morris
    12. Two Little Fishes, Five Loaves of Bread (2:41) – B. Hanighen                        
    13. Traveling Shoes (3:19) – Traditional                                                                           
    14. Beams of Heaven (2:55) – C.A. Tindley                                                                      
    15. That's All / Denomination Blues (2:58) – R. Tharpe, W. Phillips          
    16. Going Home (2:40) – Traditional
    17. Go Ahead (3:12) – C. Jeter                                                                                         
    18. Bring Back Those Happy Days (3:11) – R. Tharpe                              
    19. Give me That Old Time Religion (2:04) – Traditional                                                  
    20. If Anybody Above Me (1:48) – M. Kenney
    21. Nobody's Fault But Mine (4:26) – Traditional                                                  
    22. Produced for release by Zev Feldman

    Executive Producers for Elemental Music: Jordi Soley and Carlos Agustín Calembert

    Associate Producer: Zak Shelby-Szyszko

    Digital mastering and sound restoration by Michael Graves at Orisis Studio, Los Angeles, CA

    INA: Digitization in high resolution, restoration and mastering by Quentin Geffroy; documentation by Annie Lauzzana and Sophie Rielland; coordination by Christiane Lemire.

    Front and back cover photos by Jan Persson / CTSIMAGES

    Art direction: Burton Yount

    Album Graphics: Gordon H. Jee

    Album Package Editor: John Koenig

    Photo research: Zev Feldman, Zak Shelby-Szyszko and Sydney B. Lanex

    Legal Counsel: Joel Weinstein

    Project Assistance: Sydney B. Lanex and Martín Arias Goldestein

    Original recordings made by Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF). Manufactured and distributed under license from, and all recordings courtesy of, l’Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA)

     

  • Catalog Number

    DD-001

  • Format

    Deluxe CD Package

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