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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

'A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe' Gospel Brunch & Tribute Concert At Willie Nelson’s Luck Ranch

Above: Gypsy Mitchell playing his Epiphone Flying V guitar at the SRT tribute. Credit: Brook Burns for Luck.

Sunday, March 19 in Austin, TX, Gibson, Luck, and Antone’s offered the unforgettable, artist-packed gospel brunch and tribute concert "Strange Things Happening: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, 1915-1973". The event, which took place at Willie Nelson’s Luck Ranch and capped an exceptional week of performances at Luck Reunion, honoured the music icon Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the original "Soul Sister" who made an indelible impact on gospel and soul music. A trailblazing performer, Sister Rosetta Tharpe forged a style all her own that influenced countless musicians, including Elvis, Johnny Cash, Etta James, Little Richard, and more.

Binky Griptite and The Binky Griptite Orchestra helmed the concert, with special guests including Abraham Alexander, Amythyst Kiah, Betty Harris, Ruthie Foster,Valerie June and sets from Kam Franklin of the Suffers, Thee Sacred Souls, Gypsy Mitchell, Cookie McGee, as well as Adrian Reed and Anointed Praise, and Grace Bowers, took the Luck Reunion attendees to church with an unforgettable gospel brunch and performance to celebrate Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s birthday (March 20, 1915). Onsite at the event, Gibson Gives — the philanthropic arm of Gibson--announced the Arkansas Arts Academy as the 2023 partner school for the newly established annual Gibson Gives Sister Rosetta Tharpe Music Scholarship. This year, the Arkansas Arts Academy will receive a $5,000 music scholarship and a guitar in honor of Sister Rosetta, the Godmother of Rock n’ Roll.

“We came here today to pay tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. This is Sunday School for all of us. We’re going to show you what we learned from Sister Rosetta Tharpe.” – Binky Griptite

Music was in the air as the performers shared stories of Sister’s influence and inspiration and performed her legendary songs to a crowd of adoring fans. The sun shone brightly as guests were greeted by the sounds of Adrian Reed & The Anointed Praise Choir bursting out of the Saloon Doors. Seated on the World Headquarters stage, the legendary Cookie McGee displayed an absolute mastery of blues guitar, followed by a set of straight shredding by Gypsy Mitchell who played his Epiphone Flying V guitar with his teeth!Betty Harris performed Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head” with Grace Bowers soloing. Thee Sacred Souls played an hour long set, rousing the crowd and providing equal parts heartbreak and love as lead singer Josh Lane took fans on a journey with his smooth vocals. Closing out the day was a two-hour multi-artist tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Helmed by Binky Griptite and The Binky Griptite Orchestra, and soul and gospel performances from Amythyst Kiah, Valerie June, Betty Harris, Ruthie Foster, Kam Franklin, Abraham Alexander, and Grace Bowers. For the tribute finale, Adrian Reed & Anointed Praise Choir joined all the performers on stage for an epic gospel jam session like no other.

Above: artists perform at the SRT tribute event finale.

In honour of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s official birthday today, March 20, fans can donate now to support the annual Gibson Gives Sister Rosetta Tharpe Scholarship, at, and watch/share Gibson’s tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, as Celisse and Amythyst Kiah take viewers on a journey of her monumental and enduring impact on music: Shout, Sister, Shout! Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

During "Strange Things Happening: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe," Luck Reunion guests were treated to several Bloody Mary stations presented by Titos, as well as on-site confections from District Kitchen + Cocktails, The Jerk Shack, East Side King, and Garbo’s. Coffee was provided by Sightseer.

The Luck Reunion event in partnership with nonprofit REVERB hosted the largest 100% solar-powered festival main stage in North America, with zero-emission performances from Willie Nelson, Spoon, Margo Price, The War and Treaty, and others.

Check out photos from "Strange Things Happening: A Tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe," at Luck Reunion:

Above: Adrian Reed and Anointed Praise choir kicked off the SRT tribute concert. Credit: Brooke Burris for Luck.

Above: Binky Griptite performs at the SRT tribute. Credit: Rett Rogers for Gibson.

Above: Amythyst Kiah performs with her Gibson SG at the SRT tribute. Credit: Rett Rogers.

Above: Valerie June performs during the SRT tribute. Credit: Brook Burns for Luck.

Above: Cookie McGee playing her Gibson SG at the SRT tribute. Credit: Rett Rogers for Gibson.

Above: Abraham Alexander performs at the SRT tribute. Credit: Rett Rogers for Gibson.

Above: Valerie June, Amythyst Kiah, and Jensine Benitez of Thee Sacred Souls perform during the SRT tribute at Luck.

Above: Performer Betty Harris (whose father was SRT’s booking agent) greets the crowd.

Above (L-R): Kam Franklin of the Suffers, Valerie June, and Amythyst Kiah, perform at the SRT tribute.

Above: Grace Bowers (a Gibson Generation Group artist) takes the stage at the SRT concert with her Gibson SG guitar. Credit: Rett Roger for Gibson.

An audacious performer from Cotton Plant, Arkansas who became a gospel superstar, Sister Rosetta Tharpe is an artist that rarely comes up in debates about the true founding father of rock ‘n’ roll. SRT fronted her own band, she was one of the first artists of note to play the iconic ‘61 Les Paul SG Custom electric guitar, she was a headlining, black female artist who toured through the segregated Jim Crow South, and she has been largely overlooked as a seminal figure in the creation of rock music. As it turns out, the founding father of rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t a father at all – that distinction belongs to Sister Rosetta. A gospel-trained force of nature that broke barriers, stereotypes, and norms with astonishing regularity, her electrifying music predates the work of like-minded guitar legends including Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and Elvis. Sister Rosetta Tharpe unequivocally remains the textbook definition of an iconoclast – The Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

For 130 years, the iconic, American instrument brand Gibson has been shaping sound across generations and genres. Gibson, and its charitable arm Gibson Gives believe in the power of music, and that getting instruments into the hands of those with a desire to make music is a life-changing event. Gibson Gives--a 501(c)(3) is committed to making the world a better place by supporting non-profit organizations in their efforts to advance musicians, youth-focused education, music, and wellness initiatives. 100% of all donations to and from Gibson Gives go towards giving the gift of music. In the last three years, Gibson Gives has raised over $3.5 million dollars worldwide through its mission. Gibson Gives believes investing in music education will yield better people, better leaders, and a better world. Gibson Gives is changing lives…one guitar at a time.

Gibson, the leading iconic guitar brand, has shaped the sounds of generations of musicians and music lovers across genres for 130 years. Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Nashville, Gibson Brands has a legacy of world-class craftsmanship, legendary music partnerships, and progressive product evolution that is unrivaled among musical instrument companies. The Gibson Brands portfolio includes Gibson, the leading guitar brand, as well as many of the most beloved and recognizable music brands, including Epiphone, which has been on every stage since 1873, Kramer, the original MADE TO ROCK HARD guitar brand, MESA/Boogie, the home of tone, and KRK, behind great music for over 30 years, and Maestro, the founder of effect pedals. Gibson Brands is dedicated to quality, innovation, and sound excellence so that music lovers for generations to come will continue to experience music shaped by Gibson Brands.

Luck Presents is a cultural collective headquartered in Willie Nelson’s “Luck, TX” property. 2022 marked ten years in “Luck” for the company, which is anchored by its annual flagship event, the Luck Reunion, and bolstered by outside experiences that embrace creative legacy while cultivating new traditions in American roots culture. In addition to the Reunion, the brand activates story-driven events and content that showcase musicians, chefs, and creatives nationwide.

Established in 1975 by the late Clifford Antone, Antone’s is an iconic blues venue located in downtown Austin. Over the past 40 years, Antone’s has brought Austin a variety of blues and musicians from across the country including B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Ray Charles, and James Brown, and helped develop local talent like Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Bob Schneider, Gary Clark Jr., and others. In 2015, the historic brand was restored, and a new team brought the iconic venue back to the downtown Austin landscape with a renewed focus on once again making Antone’s the “Home of the Blues.”

Sister Rosetta Tharpe:

Gibson Gives:


LUCK Reunion:



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