Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist. A pioneer of twentieth-century music, Tharpe attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings that were a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and rhythmic/early rock accompaniment. She became gospel music's first crossover artist and its first great recording star, referred to later as "the original soul sister". She was an early influence on iconic figures such as Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.
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 pushed spiritual music into the mainstream and helped pioneer the rise of pop-gospel beginning with her 1939 hit "This Train." Her unique music 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 pop world, she never left gospel music.