#853 (12/19/15 - 1/1/16)


"In Bethlehem"/"When Was Jesus Born"
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
With The Sy Oliver Singers
on Decca 48328
released in 1954

"Silent Night (Christmas Hymn)"
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
With Rosette Gospel Singers
on Decca 48119
released in 1949

[The above photo courtesy of Paul Ressler.
Above: Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Click HERE for more information about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, including video of the full episode of her American Masters show (53 minutes), at the PBS website.
(Will open in a separate window)



Brooklyn Eagle, June 11, 1941: Moe Gale's Got An Ear For Rhythm.... He Discovers And Books Best Negro Talent In Country....

Moe Gale's got an ear for rhythm and the brown boys and girls have got that rhythm. It was in the cards that they should all get together. Result: Moe Gale has become the William Morris of the colored bands, which means, to Broadwayites, jitterbugs and all the vast fraternity of band fans, that Mr. Gale, of Gale, Inc., to use his business title, is the country's biggest booking and theatrical agent for colored musicians, just as William Morris tops the field among the palefaces.

....Sister Rosetta Tharpe, for all she is now appearing at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem with Lucky Millinder, (Moe Gale's ballroom), is still more of a Holy Roller at heart than a night club entertainer. She has been heard frequently in Brooklyn's colored churches and the difference between her singing in church and singing at the Savoy is exactly zero. Sister Tharpe sings spirituals she writes herself, strums her guitar and clicks with the Holy Roller rhythm in and out of church.

"Sister Tharpe's been singing since she was a year old," Gale explains his newest find. "Her mother is an evangelist and Little Sister was born in Cotton Plant, Ark., and accompanied her mother from the time she could walk on trips around the countryside."

"At five Little Sister was playing the organ with one finger and then somebody left a guitar behind at their house and Little Sister began strumming it with a piece of wood she picked up, singing spirituals to herself as she strummed. Spirituals became second nature to the girl, and as she grew up she began composing her own songs. She made a sensation at a religious revival in St. Louis with a spiritual she wrote, 'Pressing On The Upward Way.'"

Above Left: Pittsburgh Courier, July 19, 1947: Sy Oliver Gave Him His Best, Sy Oliver, one of the best arrangers in music, played trumpet and developed his amazing technique under the baton of Jimmy Lunceford. Sy joined Lunceford after leaving Zack White's band. Jimmie quickly saw the tremendous possibilities of the young Ohian and gave him full reign. Sy arranged many of Lunceford's greatest hits as well as writing several outstanding original compositions that became the trademark of the Harlem Express.

After several years, Sy left Lunceford and joined Tommy Dorsey's aggregation where he went on to even greater fame. Now Sy Oliver has his own band, which is developing into a power in modern music, although it is only a few months old.

Above Right: Picture from New York Age dated 10-17-53: "CAMERA'S EYE VIEW—Crowded Rainbow Room presented this picture of sartorially resplendent guests dancing to the music of Sy Oliver's Orchestra in background."

NOTE: The Rainbow Room was located in New York City and had a revolving dance floor.

(Above: From Buffalo Courier Express dated 2/21/43.)

Above Left: Royal Crown Cola advertisement from Cleveland Call And Post dated 8/26/44 (Thanks to Richard Koloda).

Above Right: Apollo clipping from New York Age dated 12/16/50.

Pittsburgh Courier, November 26, 1949: Sister Tharpe With Rosettes, ....Madame Marie Knight is no longer associated with Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Sister Tharpe has discontinued all personal appearances, all recordings, and all other business relations with Madame Marie Knight.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe now appears with The Rosettes, formerly known as The Angelic Queens, her own pianist and musical director, James Roots Jr., and also with one of the most outstanding personalities of the church, Sister Rosetta Tharpe's Mother, Katie Bell Nubin.

New York Age, December 16, 1950: Sister Tharpe... On Apollo Bill, ....No one will argue about Apollo's choice when the great Sister Rosetta Tharpe with her fine troup which includes the five Rosettes, James Roots, Jr., talented pianist, and her talented mother, Katie Bell Nubin.

NOTE: James Roots Jr. was a singer and pianist with The Four Jacks, who had two releases on the Allen label in 1949 and one release on Gotham in 1950.

Above: Clippings from (Left) San Bernardino County Sun (California) dated 8/3/50 and (Right) The Bee (Cleveland) dated 5/18/53. Sometime between 1946 and 1949, Sister Marie Knight (on the Haven label) became Madame Marie Knight. Anyway, it seems like she reunited with Sister Tharpe. After separating in 1949 (see Pittsburgh Courier dated 11/26/49 above), they are shown together on the above 1953 billing.

Above Left: Picture of Sister Rosetta Tharpe from 1948.

Above Right: Label image of Decca 48119 recorded on 9/14/49 and released later in 1949. Sister Rosetta Tharpe's first records, under her own name, were released in 1946 on Decca. Prior to that, she was a featured vocalist for Lucky Millinder, with releases on Decca starting in 1941.

Above: Label image of Decca 48328 released in 1954. The flip side, "When Was Jesus Born," is Tharpe's own composition.

The Billboard Review (12/4/54):

When Was Jesus Born
(76) An original and highly effective piece of material tailor-made for Sister Tharpe's style. She is in great form as she sails thru it selling the message sincerely.
In Bethlehem (71) A more routine Christmas item but delivered with warm sincerity and given a proper seasonal coloring by the chimes and choral group.

(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good.")

Listen to this week's selections featuring Sister Rosetta Tharpe:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

          1. In Bethlehem
          2. When Was Jesus Born
          3. Silent Night (Christmas Hymn)
          ALL THREE played in sequence

     B. Download RealAudio...
          1. In Bethlehem
          2. When Was Jesus Born
          3. Silent Night (Christmas Hymn)

     C. Stream/Download Media Player...
          1. In Bethlehem
          2. When Was Jesus Born
          3. Silent Night (Christmas Hymn)
          ALL THREE played in sequence
          (The "m3u" file may need to be opened after it is downloaded)

      [To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]

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