As The Godmother of Rock & Roll Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s highly-anticipated induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Early Influences wing approaches, Verve/UMe is bringing the trailblazer’s vaunted catalog into the digital age, making more than 200 songs available for download and streaming, most for the first time ever. The initiative, which includes seven long out-of-print albums and all 130 singles she recorded for Decca between 1938 and 1956, began on March 30 with the release of three albums: 1951’s gospel hymns LP Blessed Assurance, originally on a Decca 10-inch LP and now expanded with three rare bonus tracks; an expanded edition of her acclaimed 1958 Decca collection, Gospel Train, with two rare bonus tracks; and her spirited 1960 self-titled album Sister Rosetta Tharpe, originally issued on MGM Records. Listen and purchase here:
Over these next two weeks leading up to her induction on April 14, four additional essential Tharpe recordings and her Decca singles, divided into five volumes, will be released. The albums include expanded editions of her pioneering 1956 album Gospel Train (not to be confused with the 1958 Decca album of the same name), expanded with five bonus tracks including the non-LP single “When The Saints Go Marching In” and two previously unreleased performances, and her riveting 1959 live concert LP The Gospel Truth, bolstered by two unreleased tracks and two non-LP singles from the era, as well as the similarly named 1962 The Gospel Truth: All New! Her Greatest Gospel Hits, featuring brand new recordings of many of her best-known songs, and 1961’s Sister On Tour; the latter two were recorded for Verve. All albums, except the original Gospel Train (1956), are making their digital debut.
Following years of performing in churches across the country, first with her mother as traveling, singing missionaries when young Rosetta was a six-year-old guitar prodigy billed as a “singing and guitar playing miracle,” and later on her own as the star attraction, Tharpe’s recording career began in 1938 when she signed to Decca at age 23. Throughout the next two decades, the singer, songwriter and electrifying guitarist was incredibly prolific, touring incessantly and releasing a steady stream of 78s and 45s consisting of some of her most immensely popular and influential songs. While some of these songs have ended up on various CDs over the years, both official and unofficial, the majority of them have never been released digitally. The Complete Decca Singles Volumes 1-5 collects all of Tharpe’s singles together for the first time and presents them in chronological order by release date with the corresponding B-side. An incredible 90% of these songs will be available digitally for the first time while only 13 of them overlap with the album releases.