The Arkansas Arts Academy has been announced by Gibson as the 2023 recipient of the Sister Rosetta Tharpe Scholarship. Last year’s inaugural prize went to Sierra Guilmartin, a senior at Philadelphia High School for Girls.
Launched last year in the memory of the pioneering blues and gospel singer by Gibson in partnership with Save the Music, the fund gives money, instruments, and other music resources to students and schools across the US. You can donate at GibsonFoundation.org, and watch this previously-shared tribute to Sister Rosetta at Gibson’s YouTube channel:
This year’s recipient provides a link to Tharpe, who was born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas in 1915. The Academy will receive a grant of $5,000 and a guitar in her honor. The news was revealed during Gibson’s multi-artist Strange Things Happening: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 1915-1973 concert, which took place at Willie Nelson’s Luck Ranch on Sunday (19), a day ahead of Tharpe’s birthday.
Guitarist, producer, and radio DJ Binky Griptite and his orchestra helmed the event, and artists paying tribute to Tharpe’s enduring influence as a groundbreaking artist, electric guitar player, and figure of female independence were Abraham Alexander, Amythyst Kiah, Betty Harris, Ruthie Foster, and Valerie June, with sets by Kam Franklin of the Suffers, Thee Sacred Souls, Gypsy Mitchell, Cookie McGee, Adrian Reed and Anointed Praise, and Grace Bowers.
“Music was in the air as the performers shared stories of Sister’s influence and inspiration and performed her legendary songs to a crowd of adoring fans,” reports Grateful Web of the tribute. Said Griptite during the show: “We came here today to pay tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. This is Sunday School for all of us. We’re going to show you what we learned from Sister Rosetta Tharpe.”
Read more about the life, times, and influence of “The Godmother of Rock’n’Roll” in this special feature.