Culture The gospel roots of the ‘Godmother of rock ‘n’ roll’ By Daniel Burke | February 19, 2013 ShareTweet EmailPrint More More on Culture Subscribe to Culture Discover the life, music and influence of the African-American gospel singer and guitar virtuoso Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) on the American Masters. RNS photo by James J. Kriegsmann courtesy PBS American Masters. Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.(RNS) Before Elvis and Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash. Before Aretha and Whitney and Beyonce. Before the blues met gospel and conceived rock 'n’ roll, there was Sister Rosetta Tharpe.