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  • Sugar Pie DeSanto (2013)

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    Although born in Brooklyn, NY, singer-songwriter Sugar Pie DeSanto grew up in San Francisco's Fillmore district, and has been a fixture in the Bay Area for decades. She's small in stature but has a big voice, two characteristics she shares with her friend, the late Etta James.

    In 1955, Sugar did some touring with the Johnny Otis review, and it was Otis who gave her her stage name by which we know her. In 1959 and 1960, she was with the James Brown review, and she rose to fame with her single "I Wanna Know" with her husband, Pee Wee Kingsley.

    After their marriage ended, Sugar took off to Chicago, where she signed with Chess Records, where her records included "Slip-In Mules", "Use What You Got", "I Don't Wanna Fuss", and her biggest hit for Chess, "Soulful Dress". In 1964, she toured in the American Folk Blues Festival with a Who's Who of stars, and by that time she was truly one herself. She also started a very successful writing career with Sheena DeMell, hitting the charts with a couple of duets with Etta James, of which the best known is 1966's "In the Basement".

    Sugar eventually worked her way back to the Bay Area, settling in Oakland. Her manager and friend of over 40 years, Jim Moore, has been tireless in getting her albums back out so that people can hear them. She got married a second time, to the love of her life, Jesse Earl Davis, who sadly perished in a house fire in Oakland in 2006.

    Sugar is a celebration of pioneering spirit, raw talent, and what it means to be a lifelong performer, taking what life hands out, moving on, and singing about it.
    Pick Artist Album Song Label
    # 1 Billie Holiday Ken Burns Jazz Fine and Mellow Verve
    # 2 Billie Holiday Ken Burns Jazz Lover Man Verve
    # 3 Nina Simone The Ultimate Nina Simone I Loves You, Porgy Verve
    # 4 Nina Simone Forbidden Fruit Where Can I Go without You? Colpix
    # 5 Dinah Washington The Definitive Dinah Washington This Bitter Earth Verve/Blue Note
    # 6 Dinah Washington The Ultimate Dinah Washington Cry Me a River Verve
    # 7 Etta James At Last! At Last Chess
    # 8 Etta James At Last! A Sunday Kind of Love Chess
    # 9 Sugar Pie DeSanto Sugar Is Salty How Many Times? Jasman Records
    # 10 Sugar Pie DeSanto Refined Sugar Git Back Jasman Records
    Book Etta James and David Ritz, "Rage to Survive"
    Luxury Item Casino games on, e.g., Nintendo DS
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