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Gibson Gives Music Scholarship To Honor Sister Rosetta Tharpe

This is the first-ever music scholarship created in honor of the iconic and incomparable Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

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Gibson Gives Sister Rosetta Tharpe Scholarship
Sister Rosetta Tharpe - Photo courtesy of Gibson Guitars.

Gibson, the iconic American instrument brand headquartered in Nashville, TN, is thrilled to announce its first-ever, annual music scholarship program. For the evergreen Gibson Gives Scholarship Program, Gibson – through its philanthropic arm Gibson Gives – will award 15+ music scholarships this year comprised of cash grants, as well as instruments and gear, allowing meaningful giving directly to high school seniors as they prepare to navigate their post grad education and careers. The program has launched with the Sister Rosetta Tharpe Scholarship--the first-ever music scholarship created in honor of the iconic and incomparable Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

The Sister Rosetta Tharpe Scholarship has been awarded to Sierra Guilmartin, a senior at Philadelphia High School for Girls who plans to pursue music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in the Fall. The scholarship, created through support by the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, marks the first award from Gibson Gives directly to students in support of their post-secondary pursuits in music.

Shout, Sister, Shout! Sister Rosetta Tharpe

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Save The Music Foundation has partnered with the School District of Philadelphia since 1999, supporting expanded student access to music education through instrument donations, professional development for teachers, and Music Industry Masterclasses for students interested in exploring careers in music and entertainment. Instrument donations have included general music instruments, band and string instruments, digital keyboards, and recording and production equipment through the J Dilla Music Tech Grant, which launched at South Philadelphia High School in 2018.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s immense talent and confidence arrived during an era when women, and especially women of color, had no voice. An era where no woman dared play guitar at the front of the stage, let alone front a solo act. No woman except Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

An audacious performer from Cotton Plant, Arkansas who became a gospel superstar, Sister Rosetta Tharpe is an artist that rarely comes up in debates about the true founding father of rock ‘n’ roll. She fronted her own band, she was one of the first artists of note to play the iconic ‘61 Les Paul SG Custom electric guitar, she was a headlining, black female artist who toured through the segregated Jim Crow South, and she has been largely overlooked as a seminal figure in the creation of rock music. As it turns out, the founding father of rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t a father at all – that distinction belongs to Sister Rosetta.

A gospel-trained force of nature that broke barriers, stereotypes, and norms with astonishing regularity, her electrifying music predates the work of like-minded guitar legends including Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and Elvis Presley. Sister Rosetta Tharpe unequivocally remains the textbook definition of an iconoclast – The Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

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