If you’ve been around for a while and/or like vintage gospel, jazz, and blues, you know who Rosetta Tharpe was as well as how influential she was. As Wikipedia notes, “Tharpe was a pioneer in her guitar technique; she was among the first popular recording artists to use heavy distortion on her electric guitar, presaging the rise of electric blues. Her guitar playing technique had a profound influence on the development of British blues in the 1960s; in particular a European tour with Muddy Waters in 1963 with a stop in Manchester is cited by prominent British guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Keith Richards.”
So, one would think that finding a picture of a 1951 Decca release of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” with Marie Knight would be easy to locate on the Internet. Perhaps, but I can’t find it and would really like to see what it looks like so I can mention it in a novel. I could fake that, I suppose, by assuming that it looks like the other Decca recordings of the era, but I don’t feel comfortable doing that.
I spent a couple of hours this morning looking for the image. So far, I’ve found everything but. Seriously, I’d rather be writing the novel that pulling teeth, research-wise, for every fact I use. I’ve mentioned Tharpe before in my “Florida Folk Magic Series” because my character Eulalie was a blues singer and knows who all the singers of her era were. In the novel in progress, the main character is named “Sparrow” so that’s why this recording is important. Plus, I like the song, one that everyone and their brother or sister has recorded. Since the book is set in 1954-1955, the 1951 recording is the most reasonable release to use.
If you’re thinking about becoming a writer, obsessions like this will often take over your days.
And here it is, compliments of Sandy Daigler who picked the one method of searching Google’s images that didn’t occur to me: