From The Desk Of Alice In Chains: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Few bands survive the reboot Alice In Chains launched in 2008, six years after the death of its troubled powerhouse singer, Layne Staley. Guitarist Jerry Cantrell admits the idea of reemerging from stasis with a new vocalist, William DuVall, felt like a gamble. The result was Black Gives Way To Blue, a work worthy of standing alongside the band’s masterpiece, 1992’s Dirt. Though few would have predicted such a return to form, the album was certified gold, topped scads of best-of lists and launched two full tours. The new The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here stays true to the Alice In Chains sound, a dense shroud of gloom occasionally lifted by soaring harmonies and delicate riffs. For every dirge stomp like “Pretty Done” and the menacing creep of “Lab Monkey,” there are echoes of Jar Of Flies’ haunted acoustic beauty (“Voices,” “Choke”) or the filthy groove of “Stone,” the album’s second single. DuVall will be guest editing all week. Read our brand new Alice In Chains feature.


DuVall: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) was an absolute force of nature and one of the unsung forerunners of rock ‘n’ roll. Chuck Berry wanted to play like her. Elvis wanted to sing like her. She was probably the first well-known performer to adapt true gospel music for a secular audience, doing so decades before Ray Charles, Elvis, Sam Cooke, et al. Sister Rosetta had a record called “Rock Me” in the 1930s! She might be the single finest singer/guitarist I have ever seen. It’s practically impossible to watch her and not be uplifted. For the uninitiated, do yourself a favor and find out more about this amazing musical pioneer. I was glad to see that the PBS American Masters series recently saw fit to do a documentary on her. It’s definitely worth checking out.

3 replies on “From The Desk Of Alice In Chains: Sister Rosetta Tharpe”

Nice to read this piece Will, you are a real music connoisseur…..and a fantastic songwriter as well.Really looking forward to hear your new album

I was recently introduced to her via the American Masters episode mentioned in the article. Great piece.

Interesting suggesting from WD/AIC, but fitting as very relevant in gloom, spirit, and adaption. Thanks for sharing.

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