"In the summer of 1964, in the pouring rain, from a disused railway station outside Manchester, a 49-year old African-American woman with an electric guitar appeared on British television. Viewers had never seen anything quite like it. With her distinctive style of singing and playing, this remarkable performer would profoundly influence the course of popular music."
That's the opening to "Godmother of Rock 'n' Roll," a 2011 PBS documentary about legendary musician Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Less than a week after a sign was unveiled in Cotton Plant to honor the rock pioneer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe became a first-time nominee for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For fans of Tharpe's, the accolades are obnoxiously overdue; not only is Sister Rosetta part of rock and roll's complex story, but there's good reason to argue that she's the very inventor of the genre.
Out of the 19 nominees for the 2018 induction process, Sister Rosetta's eligibility is the oldest; artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first record.
The induction process, a combination of public votes and ballots from music historians, goes like this, as stated on rockhall.com:
Each year, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation's nominating committee selects the group of artists nominated in the performer category. Ballots are then sent to more than 900 historians, members of the music industry and artists—including every living Rock Hall inductee—and the five performers receiving the most votes become that year's induction class. Beginning in 2012, fans were given the chance to vote for the nominees they'd like to see inducted into the Rock Hall. The top five vote-getters in the public poll form one ballot, which is weighted the same as the rest of the submitted ballots.
That means you can weigh in if you're so inclined, throwing your clicks behind five nominees in the fan vote here from now until 11:59 EST, Tuesday, December 5. That same month, inductees will be announced, and the induction ceremony will take place in Cleveland, Ohio on April 14, 2018.
Meanwhile, here's a healthy excerpt from "Godmother of Rock 'n' Roll," the story of how a criminally undersung queer black musician bridged divisions between disparate pockets of culture by way of sheer talent and tenacity.