“The Sanctified Church is a protest against the high-brow tendency in Negro Protestant congregations as the Negroes gain more education and wealth.” –Zora Neale Hurston, The Sanctified Church
When Sister Rosetta Tharpe was born on March 20, 1915, black America was in the midst of a populist religious awakening. A decade earlier, in 1906, the Azusa Street Revival birthed the Pentecostal church movement in Los Angeles, setting off sparks around the nation. This was the foundation of a global Pentecostal movement, a spiritual reinvigoration of conviction that’s still continuing to this day. The Los Angeles Times greeted this development with perplexed racist diatribes, labeling it a fanatical sect engaging in a “Weird Babel of Tongues.” These particular churchgoers were calling themselves “saved and sanctified” while refusing to be associated with the oppressive confines of the denominations they had abandoned for the Pentecostal church.
The musical styles that were birthed out of what many have come to know as the Sanctified church or Holiness church would later be adapted and appropriated to create blues, jazz, and rock – the very bedrock of American music.
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