Learn about the music history of Memphis. Or plan your next trip to Memphis, Tennessee with this map.
Memphis’ contribution to the history of popular music is amazing. Soul, gospel, funk, blues or rock ‘n’ roll wouldn’t be the same without the musical creativity of this city.
The map shows the places where music history was made. See where the music was played and recorded. Find the homes of Aretha Franklin, Maurice White or W.C. Handy. Learn about forgotten swing legend Jimmy Lunceford.
Al Green, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, B.B. Kind, O.V. Wright, Albert King, Memphis Minnie and many more contributed to the great music of Memphis.
34 years after her death there’s finally a biography about Sister Rosetta Tharpe. It’s called Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915 – 1973) was a great Gospel and Rhythm and Blues singer and an innovative guitarist. Her guitar style influenced Chuck Berry and her animated style of singing was picked up by Little Richard. She started her career in Pentecostal churches, performed with Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra, played the Cotton Club, the Apollo Theater, Carnegie Hall, and the Grand Ole Opry. All the same, her name has been forgotten for many years.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was not only a Gospel star, a guitar virtuoso, and a forerunner of Rock and Roll. She also was a dazzling personality. As a successful black musician and business woman who loved men and women, she definitively was ahead of her time. And like so many Gospel singers she was caught between religious and worldly music. Singing worldly music meant making more money and more fame, but losing the church audiences and having a guilty conscience. In the first two decades of her career Sister Rosetta Tharpe oscillated between worldly and religious music. Then, in the late fifties and through the sixties, she concentrated on Gospel again.
Gayle F. Wald wrote the biography. She’s an professor of English. Her academic background shines through, she relies on the facts and doesn’t get lost in speculations. She interviewed dozens of people who knew Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Wald doesn’t hide conflicting memories of the interviewees. She writes straight and unagitated. It’s a sober biography that gives plain information. Where the facts are concerned, the soberness is appropriate. Unfortunately the soberness also shows in the scarce number of pictures and the rudimentary discography.
Recommended Sister Rosetta Tharpe CD: The Gospel of Blues gives a good overview of Rosetta Tharpe’s music from 1938 – 1948.
Interesting reading: Article about Sister Rosetta Tharpe on East Bay Express.
If you happen to pass trough Meridian, Mississippi and are interested in country music be sure to stop at the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Museum. It’s not easy to find, so be sure to take your time. But when you get there you will be rewarded by a nice little museum with wonderful staff. Not too many people come by, it’s nothing fancy, very down to earth and the whole place breathes the spirit of a long forgotten past. They have many music sheets, lyrics and letters on display, some furniture and one of Jimmie Rodgers’ guitars. In front of the museum there’s a steam engine, because Jimmie Rodgers used to work as brakeman for the railroad. That’s why he got his moniker «The Singing Brakeman». Meridian is Jimmie Rodgers birthplace and also the place were he was laid to rest.
Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) had a short but huge career. His early death was caused by tuberculosis. His music unifies influences from folk, country and blues and he tells stories of sadness, loneliness and unfulfilled romance. Still today his songs sound fresh and timeless.