Sunday, March 5, 2017

Meet Sugar Pie DeSanto, legendary blues singer and song writer


I HAVE TO TELL YOU, I watched this video of legendary blues singer Sugar Pie DeSanto and I broke out in a great big smile. With all the divisiveness and turmoil in our country, anything that can help lift that weight off our shoulders is a welcome relief. Right? 

March is Women's History Month and NBC ran an article about four standout Asian/American women that we've never heard about that included a short paragraph on DeSanto. The other women NBC featured were:
  • Afong Moy, one of the first Chinese women to immigrate to the U.S.
  • Anandi Gopal Joshi, the first woman from India to study medicine in the U.S.
  • Patsy Takemoto Mink, one of the first Asian/American women to serve in Congress.

A legendary blues singer, Sugar Pie DeSanto was born Umpeylia Marsema Balinton in 1935 to an African/American mother and Filipino father. Originally named after her Filipina grandmother, Johnny Otis dubbed her "Little Miss Sugar Pie" in 1955, and not because she had a sweet tooth or liked to bake. "While we were in the studio he named me Sugar Pie," DeSanto recalled in an interview, "Because I was so little. I wore a size three shoe and I weighed about 85 pounds. I was very tiny." 

Her hits "Baby, What You Want Me To Do?," "Soulful Dress," and "Rock Me Baby" would help DeSanto establish what one critic for NPR called her persona of "an assertive young woman who took no mess."

That would be enough to gain most singers a reasonable slice of glory, but DeSanto also happens to be a hilarious comedienne, a show-stopping dancer, and a superb and highly original songwriter. She's written over 100 songs, some of which have been cut by Fontella BassBilly StewartLittle MiltonBobby McClureMinnie RipertonJesse Jamesthe Dells, and the Whispers
DeSanto, a resident of Oakland, California, was honored with a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2008.
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