Gibson Partners With Newport Festivals Foundation To Honor The Iconic Soul Sister Rosetta Thorpe

July 21, 2022

Gibson, the iconic American instrument brand, has partnered with Newport Festivals Foundation through its philanthropic arm Gibson Gives at this summer’s Newport Folk Festival.

The festival celebrates the music icon Sister Rosetta Tharpe (who played at the Cotton Club with Cab Calloway at Cotton Club in October 1938) and the 55th anniversary of her groundbreaking Newport Folk Festival performance on July 16, 1967. This Sunday, July 24 at 12:40 PM on the Newport Folk Festival Foundation Stage a special performance will feature acclaimed singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Celisse performing classic Sister Rosetta Tharpe songs such as “Didn’t It Rain,” as well as a special performance of SRT’s “Up Above My Head” alongside the youth players from RIOT RI–a local nonprofit that fosters the development of healthy identities in girls, women, trans, and gender-expansive youth and adults, through the power of music. Gibson will donate six of the soon to be released new Epiphone Power Players guitars to the RIOT RI Foundation.

“Sister Rosetta Tharpe is one of music’s most important and influential figures as the creator of rock and roll music” says Celisse. “Celebrating the 55th anniversary of her debut at Newport Folk Fest, in collaboration with RIOT RI further affirms one of the most important tenants of Newport’s mission, a commitment to honoring and remembering the true founders and innovators of American music. I am incredibly proud to be one of the many artists that stand on Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s shoulders and hope that in continuing to name and celebrate her incredible contributions to popular music, it may inspire more people to believe that great music can come from anyone.”

Founded in 2011, Newport Festivals Foundation’s mission is to preserve the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals and expand their impact through year-round music education and artist relief initiatives.  The festivals have always strived to present artists who respect and honor jazz and folk music traditions, while at the same time reflecting the changes in trends and the times in which they live. As the first modern music festivals in the U.S., they continue, to this day, to be leaders and innovators in the festival landscape.

The sold-out 2022 Newport Folk Festival will take place this week at Fort Adams State Park on Friday, July 22, Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24. The festival will celebrate its 61st year with wide range, of singer-songwriters, indie and soul artists and folk rock bands including Brandi Carlile and Friends, Bleachers, Courtney Barnett, Maren Morris, Trampled by Turtles, Dinosaur Jr, The National, The Roots, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Valerie June, Celisse, Sierra Ferrell, Adia Victoria, Joy Oladokun, Japanese Breakfast, and many more.

The Gibson and Newport Festivals Foundation partnership and Sister Rosetta Tharpe celebration follows the recent announcement of Gibson’s annual Scholarship Program. Gibson announced it will award 15+ music scholarships in 2022 comprised of both cash grants ($75,000), as well as instruments and gear directly to high school seniors as they prepare to navigate their post grad education and careers.

The Gibson Gives Scholarship Program launched with the Sister Rosetta Tharpe Scholarship–the first-ever music scholarship created in honor of the iconic and incomparable Godmother of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The Sister Rosetta Tharpe Scholarship, created through support by the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, has been awarded to Sierra Guilmartin, a senior at Philadelphia High School for Girls who will pursue music at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in the Fall. 

Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s immense talent and confidence arrived during an era when women, and especially women of color, had no voice. An era where no woman dared play guitar at the front of the stage, let alone front a solo act. No woman except Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Watch and share “Shout, Sister, Shout! Sister Rosetta Tharpe,” Gibson’s tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, featuring Celisse–who also served as creative director of the SRT campaign–and Amythyst Kiah, which takes viewers on a journey of Sister Rosetta’s monumental impact on music:

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.

To shine a light on and celebrate the music and cultural influence of the iconic Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Gibson is proud to partner with the Sister Rosetta Tharpe family and Oxford Pennant with a limited-edition Sister Rosetta Tharpe lifestyle apparel and accessories collection, available onsite at the Newport Folk Festival and via,

The leading global guitar brand, Gibson continues to shape the sounds of generations of musicians across the globe. Gibson supports the global music community through its philanthropic arm, Gibson Gives. The mission of Gibson Gives is to create, develop, and support non-profit organizations worldwide in their efforts to advance musicians, youth-focused education, music, and health and wellness initiatives. 100% of donations to Gibson Gives go towards giving the gift of music.

Newport Folk Festival Foundation: NEWPORT FESTIVALS.ORG

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