Interview by Bill Dahl for Blues Blast Magazine
August 23, 2018
Featured Interview – Sugar Pie DeSanto
Life hasn’t been easy in recent years for diminutive dynamo Sugar Pie DeSanto.
Based since the late ‘60s in Oakland, California (the same metropolis she grew up in), the feisty singer lost her husband, Jesse Davis, in an October 2006 fire that destroyed their third floor apartment. At the beginning of this year, a serious health crisis arose that imperiled her career.
“I’ve been fighting cancer,” says DeSanto. “I’ve been off since before March, because I’ve been ill. I’m under the gun from the radiation and the chemo.” Particularly difficult to deal with was the devastating toll the disease exacted on her precious pipes. “I lost all vocal. I had no throat at all,” she says. “I lost 18 pounds. I had 35 days of radiation in a row, as well as chemo. You talk about make you sick! No, you don’t want that stuff. You don’t want no chemo, and you don’t want no radiation. Tell ‘em no. I ain’t never been this ill.”
Nonetheless, DeSanto is bravely waging a comeback. “It’s coming back around, but it’s not there as of yet. I’m still struggling with sound and all that,” she admits. ”It’ll take a while. It didn’t happen overnight, so it ain’t gonna be cured overnight. But you can fight it. You know what I’m saying? You can keep fighting. That’s all I can do. That’s what I better do if I want to survive.”
The singer’s longtime manager, James C. Moore Sr., is putting the finishing touches on a new EP, Sugar’s Suite, scheduled to be released on his own Jasman label this fall. The disc contains some of DeSanto’s most personal music to date. Although Sugar Pie worries that her voice wasn’t up to par when she cut the four tracks (“I don’t think I did a good enough job that I could do, by getting ill,” she frets), they’re revealing autobiographical treatises rendered in raw and emotionally charged fashion.