NAACP THEATRE AWARDS 2019
Best director of a musical
Shout Sister Shout! offers spirit-raising gospel, proto-rock and rhythm and blues, an irrepressible evening of song and story, fusing bravura with tenderness”.
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
'Shout Sister Shout!' puts early rock influence Rosetta Tharpe center stage and it’s about time”
LOS ANGELES TIMES
“Creator/director Randy Johnson and creator/book writer Cheryl L. West have assembled an incredibly satisfying evening of storytelling and song. The music rolls across the audience in waves of pure pleasure”.
STAGE AND CINEMA – LOS ANGELES
Long before "women in rock" became a media catchphrase, African American guitar virtuoso Rosetta Tharpe proved in spectacular fashion that women could rock. Born in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, in 1915, Tharpe was gospel's first superstar and the preeminent crossover figure of its golden age (1945–1965).
Shout, Sister, Shout! is the new musical created by playwright Cheryl West and director Randy Johnson. It’s the story of this trailblazing performer who influenced scores of popular musicians, from Elvis Presley and Little Richard to Eric Clapton and Etta James. Tharpe was raised in the Pentecostal Church, steeped in the gospel tradition, but she produced music that crossed boundaries, defied classification, and disregarded the social and cultural norms of the age; incorporating elements of gospel, blues, jazz, popular ballads, folk, country, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. Tharpe went electric early on, captivating both white and black audiences in the North and South, in the U.S. and internationally, with her charisma and skill. People who saw her perform claimed she made that guitar talk. Ambitious, flamboyant, and relentlessly public.
Rolling Stone Magazine said about her recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “no artist has been more overdue for recognition than Sister Rosetta Tharpe, A queer black woman from Arkansas who shredded on electric guitar, belted praises both to God and secular pleasures, and broke the color line touring with white singers, she was gospel's first superstar, and she most assuredly rocked.”
Bob Dylan said that, “Sister Rosetta Tharpe was anything but ordinary and plain…she was a powerful force of nature, a guitar playing, singing evangelist.” Her biographer Gayle Wald said Tharpe “didn’t just play the guitar, she owned it… turning wood and metal onto something alive yet completely under her control”
SHOUT SISTER SHOUT debuted in July 2017 at the Pasadena Playhouse to record breaking attendance. The Hollywood Reporter said “In her time, Tharpe was lauded for guitar work equal to that of any man. In fact, she could outplay most of them. It’s no surprise she was a victim of sexism and racism, and her final resting place nearly forgotten. While Shout Sister Shout! serves as a necessary theatrical testament to an American treasure, it's also a rollicking celebration of her joyous spirit.