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With Good Reason: Sister Rosetta Tharp and The Gospel Roots of Rock and Roll

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With Good Reason
Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Airs Friday, February 27, at 9 p.m. Sister Rosetta Tharp electrified 1930s audiences with her singing and guitar playing. "The Godmother of Rock and Roll" influenced the music of Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Johnny Cash. Plus, a celebration of the "Affrilachian Poets". And, accents can be endearing but southern and African American students often pay a price in the classroom for their dialects.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings that were a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll. She became the first superstar of gospel music and was an early influence on Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Johnny Cash. Chris Kjorness  plays some of her groundbreaking recordings and talks about her legacy. Also featured: The Broadway musical has often taken up southern themes, from Show Boat and Porgy and Bess in the first half of the twentieth century to Memphis , which hit the Broadway stage in 2009. For all their popularity, Gary Richards argues that these musicals nevertheless tend to have a negative view of the South and don’t reflect its diversity today.

Later in the show: Accents can be endearing, but southern students and African American students are often marginalized in the classroom because of their dialects. Anne Harper Charity Hudley is the coauthor of a book to help educators make sure students don’t suffer for the way they talk. And: John Russell Rickford has written a book on the topic: Spoken Soul: The Story of Black English . Also featured: The Affrilachian Poets are celebrating 20 years. Frank X Walker coined the term in 1991 after he came away from a literary event frustrated by the exclusion of African American writers from Appalachian literature. Theresa Burriss is an expert on the Affrilachians and an honorary member of the group.