WHAT IS CREATIVE PASSION? How can one define or describe it? I am writing this blog post, and others to come, in an attempt to answer these questions. There are many types of expression of creative passion. For the sake of manageability, I am focusing on the art of music in this series. In addition to this discipline, I am narrowing my exploration to American Music History from the 1920’s to the 1970’s.
You are welcome to visit the above page, American Music History from the 1920’s through the 1970’s. There are obviously many other great periods and countries where creative passion lived within the soul of an artist and blossomed. But this is meant to be an introductory blog post to whet a reader’s appetite. Maybe one day there will be a book composed of chapters of these kinds of artists. But for now, we have a small feast of five. Let’s go to:
Expressions of Creative Passion: Part One
AS EXEMPLIFIED BY SISTER ROSETTA THARPE
A great example is one of my favorite singers who spanned many of the decades of this study. Her name was Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Click on her name for the link to Wikipedia about her. She is considered the ‘Godmother of Rock ‘n Roll. But if I were to ask most Rock ‘n Roll enthusiasts who she was, they would have no clue.
The above video is of Sister Rosetta singing, ‘Didn’t It Rain’ in her UK appearance as part of the American Folk Blues Festival that took place between 1963-1966. Click on the link for more information about this event. Suffice to say, a collection of the greatest living American musicians came to Europe to tour and introduce European audiences to American music. The European response was the British Invasion which to a great extend ‘copied’ the American music they had been introduced to.
Sister Tharpe is credited with inventing the guitar picking style of Elvis Presley and the music styles of many other musicians. But one can see how obscurely she is mentioned on the poster promoting this several year tour event.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s name is barely legible in the bottom right hand corner of the poster
“Born in Arkansas in 1915, Sister Rosetta Tharpe began performing as a child with her mother. One of the first gospel artists to perform in both churches and secular clubs, she is credited with bringing gospel music into the mainstream in the 1930s and 1940s. She toured until her death in 1973.” Quoted from biography.com. She was recognized by the USPS, with a stamp that was issued in 1988 as part of the ‘Gospel’ series.
It is posted on the facebook page of Sister Rosetta & the Rosettes at the beginning of this post. The page exists primarily in memory to both Sister and the Rosettes. It is maintained by Jacquelyn (Jacki) Harris, the niece of one of the Rosettes, Erma Fitzgerald (later Patterson) who was a very talented singer, igniting the church going community with her passion. I would love to see it get many more ‘LIKES’
Essentially, Rosetta had faded away into obscurity. But the American Masters:PBS Special about her helped to revive interest and awareness. One wonders if she will ever get full, public credit for being the ‘Godmother of Rock ‘n Roll? I don’t think she has ever been inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Was there a glass ceiling in the musical world when she was at her best? In any event, to those who know her music, she is unforgettable and undeniable as a creative genius. Thanks to author and biographer of Sister Rosetta, Gayle Ward, we know as much as we do about the ‘Godmother of Rock ‘n Roll.
Unfortunately, she died in poverty without the money for a gravestone. A memorial concert was held to raise the money for this beautiful stone she now has. January 11th has also been declared Rosetta Tharpe Day. That’s okay with me. I will listen to her music and watch her documentaries all day. Creative genius is no guarantee of eternal worldly riches or even a gravestone. But the love and respect for the creative geniuses can.
Future posts in this series will illustrate additional characteristics of creative genius and the people who exemplified them. They will appear on The Alison D. Gilbert Blog and on the American Music History from 1920’s through the 1970’s.
Sources and Resources
• Jacquelyn (Jacki) Harris, The Possibilities Artist (who is creative in
her own right) niece of Erma Fitzgerald (later Patterson) who was one of the Rosettes and a very talented singer, igniting the church going
community with her passion. Both by interview and The facebook page of Sister Rosetta & The Rosettes which she established and maintains
• AMERICAN MASTERS | PBS Special: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, The Godmother of Rock and Roll
• The Guardian
• SHOUT, SISTER, SHOUT by Gayle Wald
• Where to Buy SHOUT, SHOUT, SHOUT by Gayle Wald