Lizzo capped off her breakout 2019 with her Saturday Night Live debut this weekend, and her guitarist, Celisse Henderson, took the opportunity to pay tribute to the legendary guitarist Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
Henderson appeared alongside Lizzo for a slightly altered intro to her smash, “Truth Hurts,” picking out a crackling version of the song’s lead melody on a cream-colored Gibson SG Custom — just like the kind Tharpe used to play. Henderson topped it all off with a guitar strap emblazoned with the word “Sister.”
On Twitter, Henderson wrote, “What an honor it was to kick off this incredible performance by the amazingly talented and good hearted @Lizzo, And it’s all for #SisterRosettaTharpe.”
What an honor it was to kick of this incredible performance by the amazingly talented and good hearted @lizzo 💕💕
And it’s all for #SisterRosettaTharpe @nbcsnl @gibsonguitar #lizzoSNL pic.twitter.com/mI5XuzWvhM
— Celisse (@CelisseMusic) December 22, 2019
Tharpe was a pioneer in every sense of the word. A queer black woman from Arkansas who came up playing music in the church, she played alongside greats like Duke Ellington and scored a handful of gospel-R&B crossover hits in the Forties.
The first generation of rock & roll artists, from Elvis to Chuck Berry to Bob Dylan, revered Tharpe, but while her career saw a small resurgence during the Sixties, she didn’t get the same bump as male blues artists. Tharpe died in 1973 and it took until 2017 for her to be posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.