Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist. A pioneer of 20th-century music, Tharpe attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings that were a mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll accompaniment. As the first recording artist to impact the music charts with spiritual recordings, Tharpe became the first superstar of gospel music and became known as "the original soul sister". She was an early influence on iconic figures such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Johnny Cash.
Willing to cross the line between sacred and secular by performing her music of 'light' in the 'darkness' of the nightclubs and concert halls with big bands behind her, Tharpe's witty, idiosyncratic style left a lasting mark on more conventional gospel artists, such as Ira Tucker, Sr., of the Dixie Hummingbirds. While she offended some conservative churchgoers with her forays into the world of pop music, she never left gospel music.