Sister Rosetta Tharpe was first and foremost a great gospel singer. When on stage, she sang from the heart and looked above for her inspiration. She also played a mean guitar, as you’ll hear in her down and dirty solo about halfway through her “Gospel Time TV” performance of “Up Above My Head.”

“Let’s do that again,” says Sister Rosetta Sharpe after her rockin’ guitar solo. And then she does it again.

Immense Influence on Rock & Roll

After listening to Sister Rosetta Sharpe rock her ’61 Gibson™ Les Paul™ SG in the video above, it’s quite obvious she had a huge influence on the popular music that evolved into Rock & Roll. In her playing, you can hear the same type of guitar licks and intensity that became the foundation of hit records by Chuck Berry, along with the thousands of six-stringed rockers who followed in their footsteps.

There is no denying that Tharpe’s success as a guitar-playing gospel recording artist, beginning in 1947, helped pave the way for other singers who matched their vocal prowess with their guitar virtuosity. A new form of American popular music was emerging in the 1950s, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe was at the forefront of its influencers.

Commemorations by Gibson™ and AXE HEAVEN®

To honor Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s legacy, Gibson and AXE HEAVEN have collaborated on the handcrafted Sister Rosetta Tharpe ’61 Gibson™ Les Paul™ SG Miniature Guitar – Limited Edition 2022 Model. Only 200 units of this mini replica collectible exist, so they’re almost as rare as her unique talent, which was also honored in 2018 with her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in the Early Influences category of course.

Additionally, we’ve honored Tharpe’s legacy with her well-deserved inclusion as an AXE HEAVEN Exclusive Artist, where you can watch and listen to additional videos and learn more about her groundbreaking career.