Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

July 19, 1951

On July 19, 1951, the Los Angeles Sentinel ran an Associated Negro Press story on the wedding of musical pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe and her road manager Russell Morrison. The story described the event, held at Griffith Stadium before 15,000 spectators, as “one of the best attended, most unusual and most spectacular weddings ever held in Washington.” “The guitar-picking, gospel-singing bride was most picturesque strolling down the long white strip of carpet to the tune of Lohengrin’s ‘Wedding March,’” the paper reported. “The sequin-trimmed three-foot train to her $1000 white nylon lace gown glittered brilliantly under the blue spotlight. Her waist-length net veil was held in place by a jeweled crown of rhinestones and pearls. She carried a bouquet of 28 white orchids interspersed with white ostrich features.” The wedding took place shortly after the Fourth of July and ended with “an elaborate display of fireworks including cupid’s heart pierced with arrows designed especially for the bride and groom. A most unusual display was a giant 20 foot high framework of colorful fireworks portraying Sister Rosetta playing her famous guitar.”

For more on Sister Rosetta Tharpe, read Gayle Wald’s excellent biography The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe and watch PBS’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock & Roll.

Here is Sister Rosetta Tharpe performing “Up Above My Head” on TV Gospel Time in the early 1960s.

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