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Godmother of rock 'n' roll: Seattle Rep celebrates Sister Rosetta Tharpe in new musical

In this Nov. 21, 1957, file photo, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, guitar-playing American gospel singer, gives an inpromptu performance in a lounge at London Airport, following her arrival from New York.
The Associated Press
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In this Nov. 21, 1957, file photo, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, guitar-playing American gospel singer, gives an inpromptu performance in a lounge at London Airport, following her arrival from New York.

A new musical at Seattle Rep celebrates the life of a musical revolutionary of the 1930s and ‘40s. “Shout Sister Shout” looks at the career of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a musical revolutionary who is considered the godmother of rock ‘n’ roll. KNKX blues host John Kessler sits down with the lead actor and one of the show’s creators.

She’s been called a rock heroine, a trailblazer, a pioneer, all of it completely true, and yet Sister Rosetta Tharpe has been largely forgotten by history. Her musical innovation was to blend the passion of the church with the swagger of the blues, creating a sound that opened the door for people such as Elvis, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis — rock ‘n’ roll.

John has worked as a professional bassist for 20 years, including a 15 year stint as Musical Director of the Mountain Stage radio program. John has been at KNKX since 1999 where he hosts “All Blues”, is producer of the BirdNote radio program, and co-hosts “Record Bin Roulette”. John is also the recording engineer for KNKX “In-Studio Performances”. Not surprisingly, John's main musical interests are jazz and blues, and he is still performing around Seattle.