Rosetta’s fingers blazed over the fingerboard, twanged the strings with a fire never before seen. She infused a plain instrument with dripping sexual tension and lightning power. Fans clamored at her feet, and her soprano voice carried through the speakers.
The lights went down at the end of the show, and Rosetta made her way backstage. On her way there, a young boy attempted to accost her in the hall. “How do you play like that?”
“Why sugar,” she said, “I practiced and did it ’cause I loved it.” She pinched his cheek. “What’s your name, honey-child?”
This was written for the August 1st, 2019 Carrot Ranch Challenge, Rock Star. With “Old Town Road” causing major cultural and political waves on multiple music charts, I thought it absolutely necessary to look at another era of whitewashing in American culture.* Sister Rosetta Tharpe was, undeniably, the first major Rock Star. Influencing many future white and black rock singers, it’s astounding to me that she’s been widely forgotten by the nation as a whole.
I made up this story, as it probably didn’t actually happen, but Elvis and Rosetta did surely meet in a vinyl format when he spun the records that inspired him to kick off the “Rock Era.”
*The “Old Town Road” controversy is over whitewashing, but it’s not necessarily an example of purposeful whitewashing. I’d suggest reading the Slate article if you want a better idea of what’s going on.