Marie Knight’s ‘WhoRolled The Stone Away’ really digs deep! This song makes you feel good, the arrangement swings, the vocals are smooth.
In the 1940s Marie Knight worked and toured alongside the great Sister Rosetta Tharpe. And like Sister Rosetta this Gospel and Rhythm and Blues singer had a long career in music. The two singers had a lot in common. Marie Knight’s ‘Who Rolled the Stone Away’, for example has similar vocals and grooves as good as “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho’ from Sister Rosetta.
The Original Soul sister of Blues: Sister Rosetta Tharpe
It was on YouTube where I spotted a picture of a beautiful woman in front of a group of Gospel singers with a Gibson SG in front of her. I instantly clicked on the video, and heard the woman play a Rock ‘n Roll guitar riff. She started singing ‘Above My Head, I hear music in the air’. Slowly the Gospel singers started singing along. It was the coolest mix of Gospel and Rock ‘n Roll I ever heard. Soon I started looking for more songs of this great Musician. I discovered the magical repertoire of Sister Rossetta Tharpe.
Inspiration for Rock ‘n Roll Musicians
She was a great musician, a Gospel singer, a Blues shouter and a Rock ‘n Roll guitarist. With her songs Sister Rosetta Tharpe was an early influence on figures such as Little Richard, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. Johnny Cash covered her hit “There are Strange Things Happeninh Every Day” on his 1979 Gospel Album A Believer Sings the Truth.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Rosetta’s greatest hit Jericho
My favorite Sister Rosetta song is the traditional Jericho a well-known African American spiritual. According to Wikipedia The song is believed to have been composed by slaves in the first half of the 19th century. Some references suggest that it was copyrighted by Jay Roberts in 1865. Musicians like Mahalia Jackson and Elvis Presley also recorded a cool version of Jericho. Sister Rosetta Tharpe however took it to a new level. With rhythmic interruptions in the vocals she created a true Rhythm and Blues song. French DJ-Duo C2C inspired by Sister Rosetta remixed her version. C2C showed us that Sister Rosetta would have been a hit-making musician today.
C2C Remix – Jericho
Upbringing and entering music
Sister Rosetta Tharpe was born on March 20th 1915 in Cotton Plant Arkansas, started to sing at her mother’s church concertes at the age of four. During those days Rosetta was called “Little Rosetta Nubin”, ‘the singing and guitar playing miracle’. Despite her religious upbringing she was dedicated to the Blues and jazz. Alongside Lucky Millinders’s jazz band she recorde her first album in New York. The album created quite a stir. The mix of sacred words and secular sounds entered the world like a blast. (ABC of the Blues, ultimate collection, artist: Rosetta Tharpe).
Showmanship and the Folk Blues Caravan
Rosetta Tharpe was a brilliant guitarist playing flashy as a rock star, it was all part of het showmanship. When her career took a dent in the fifties and sixties she was part of the Folk blues revival caravan that toured around Europe. Alongside Muddy Waters, Otis Spann and Cousin Joe. During the early Seventies Sister Rosetta Tharpe had several strokes, after another stroke in 1973 she died in Philadelphia.
“All this new stuff they call rock ’n’ roll, why, I’ve been playing that for years now… Ninety percent of rock-and-roll artists came out of the church, their foundation is the church.”
The fight for freedom: “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho”
My old friend Eddy told me last Friday in the local bar how he won “the battle of Jericho” against the local water company in a lawsuit. The local water company had
threatened him for a few months with bills, but he fought back. They claimed they would close the water connection to his house down, again he fought back. He wrote the courthouse a few times and this last Friday he told me while drinking a couple of beers that he won the lawsuit in style.
His adventure at the courthouse reminded me of the gospelblues song “Jericho”. Although it is not to be compared with the struggle for freedom many of the “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho” singers had back in the day, for Eddy it felt just like that.
The traditional “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho” was recorded by the greatest in Rock ‘n Roll, Blues and Gospel. A favorite version of “Jericho” was difficult to find because the list of “Jericho” singers contains artist like Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Hugh Laurie and they all made a masterpiece of this classic blues song in a different era.
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
Joshua fit the battle of Jericho
And the walls come tumblin’ down, that mornin’
Roots of The Battle of Jericho
The lyrics allude to the biblical story of the Battle of Jericho, in which Joshua led the Israelitesagainst Canaan (Joshua6:15-21). However, like those of many other spirituals, the words may also be alluding to eventual escape from slavery – in the case of this song, “And the walls came tumblin’ down.” The lively melody and rhythm also provided energy and inspiration. (Wikipedia Jericho)
In the Blues and Gospel tradition “Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho is a well-known African-American spiritual and believed to have been composed by slaves in the first half of the 19th century. Even today this song is heard in churches around the world every sonday.
When I told my friend Eddy about Jericho, he remembered the version of Mahalia Jackson. She was a stateful woman and one of the best Gospel singer around. The most beautiful Mahalia version of this song, was her performance as she appeared in 1957 singing on the Nat King Cole show.
Fit The Battle Of Jericho-Mahalia Jackson
Elvis Presley Cover of Jericho
Elvis Presley recorded “Jericho ” on october 30, at the RCA studio in Memphis. It was first released on “His Hand In Mine” album later that year. Presley’s voice is great in this song while the backgound singers bring a great melancholy to the song.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe cover and Bluesy Remix
You should also listen tot Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing “Jericho”. I’ll bet she would still make a hit record out of “Jericho” today and that must have been the reason for French DJ duo C2C to cover and remix this blues song in 2013. C2C used a killerbeat to accentuate the hip hop groove in Sister Rosetta’ singing.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Jericho
Sister Rosetta Tharpe Jericho (C2C Remix)
The most bluesy version is made by British musician and actor Hugh Laurie who turned it into a slightly New Orleans blues song. Of all songs on this page Laurie turned it into the slowest version.
Credit feature picture:By Dave Brinkman (ANEFO) (GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL)) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Library congress LC-USZ62-91314
Delta Rhythm Boys – Joshua Fit De Battle Of Jericho