She influenced Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and countless other rock 'n' roll icons.
So how come Sister Rosetta Tharpe isn't a household name?
Born in 1915 in Cotton Plant, Ark., Tharpe was one of the first gospel performers to cross over into popular music. From the 1940s-'60s, her vocal skills and talent on the newly electrified guitar caught the attention of fans young and old.
Last weekend PBS' American Masters premiered an excellent documentary about Sister Rosetta, The Godmother of Rock 'n' Roll. Directed by Mick Csaky, the movie includes archival footage and interviews about the musician, who died in 1973.
"It's not an image that I think we're used to thinking about when we think about rock 'n' roll history," says Tharpe biographer Gayle Wald. "We don't think about the black woman behind the young white man."
Right now the 53-minute flick is streaming at PBS.org. I highly recommend it, particularly if you're interested in the roots of rock 'n' roll.