In a day when segregation was barely questioned, few Afro-American artists were able to break the color barrier, for back then even music was rigidly divided by race. Those who did gain acceptance normally did so at a steep cost, forced to alter their styles to make their sound acceptable to white audiences. And so, most singers in this position recorded two distinctly different groups of music, one for their white fans, the other for their Afro-American admirers. But not Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She managed to never compromise, and although the arrangements may have differed, her performances were just as electrifying regardless of the color of her audience. But Tharpe not only overcame the musical dualism of the day, she also carefully side-stepped the schism in the Afro-American community that divided gospel lovers from R&B fans. And so, beginning in 1938 while still in her teens, Tharpe released a steady stream of sensational songs that musically bounced happily from spirituals to boogies, and blues to big band swing. This two-CD compilation showcases the phenomenal breadth of her recordings, as well as her incredible vocal talent. Bundling up music recorded between 1938 and 1949, the set includes Tharpe's many solo hits, as well as a series of sensational numbers with fellow gospel singer Madame Marie Knight. From Blues to Gospel closes before Tharpe cut the pure blues sides that finally alienated the singer from her gospel audience in the early '50s; it would take her nearly a decade to win them back. But win them back she did, for Tharpe was a force who could not be long ignored, a gospel singer who just could not be contained, and a strong-minded woman whose talent and determination would always win out. With an excellent biography and extensive credits, From Blues to Gospel is a splendid tribute to this most legendary of singers.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2