Sugar Pie Desanto Bio
Award-Winning Music Artist Sugar Pie DeSanto
Based in Oakland, California
For R&B and soul music that comes alive, you can’t go wrong with CDs from us. Jasman Records Inc. is an Oakland, California, label proudly promoting Sugar Pie DeSanto, an award-winning artist providing R&B and soul music everyone can enjoy.
Born Umpeylia Marsema Balinton of Filipino and African-American parentage, she was dubbed Little Miss Sugar Pie by the legendary Johnny Otis. He signed her to her first professional contract in 1954, after which she had her first hit record in 1959.
“I Want to Know” was recorded on the Veltone® label and produced by the Godfather of Oakland Blues, Bob Geddins, Sr.
It rose to Number 3 on the Billboard charts, spring boarding Ms. DeSanto into a lucrative contract with Chess Records®. At that time, Chess Records’ artists included Etta James, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and Bo Diddley.
During her tenure at Chess Records, she became the most prolific and highest paid writer in their employ.
Her songbook contains more than 100 compositions, which have been recorded by the likes of Minnie Riperton, Billy Stewart, Fontella Bass, The Whispers, Little Milton, The Dells, and Jesse James. Also while at Chess Records, Ms. DeSanto recorded two historic duets with Etta James, “In the Basement” and “Do I Make Myself Clear.” The latter song was featured in the 1999 movie, “The Hurricane.”
For a two-year stretch, Ms. DeSanto opened for James Brown, pushing him to new heights with her white-hot, daring, dazzling, saucy stage presence. James Brown earned the moniker the hardest working man in show business legitimately; anybody who follows Ms. DeDanto has to work harder.
Ms. DeSanto’s career spans six decades, but she is still a vibrant, multifaceted performer. In the summer of 2008, she performed to capacity crowds at Yoshi’s Jazz & Supper Club, The Chicago Blues Festival, and the Poretta Soul Festival in Poretta, Italy.
“Best Blues Performer (Female) 1997″—Real Blues Magazine
“Legendary Artist/Songwriter 1998″—Blues/Soul Summit Conference
“Outstanding Blues Artist 1999″—Bammies Regional Award
“In Recognition of Artistry 2000″—Panama Awards
About Sugar Pie
Sugar Pie DeSanto has been called a great R&B singer. Her CDs, “Sugar Is Salty” (1993), “Classic Sugar Pie” (1997), and “A Slice of Pie” (1999), are on the Jasman Records label. Yet, Ms. DeSanto, born in Brooklyn, is far more than a great blues singer—, she’s also a first-class soul singer, a commanding jazz stylist, an uproarious comedienne, a show-stopping dancer, and an expert tunesmith.
She made more than 20 appearances at the Apollo Theater and appeared regularly at The Regal in Chicago and The Howard in Washington, DC. It was at the Apollo where she was spotted by “The Godfather of Soul,” James Brown, and became his dynamic opening act for the next two years.
A Unique Sensation
With the exception of “Hello, San Francisco, Part 1,” which was composed by legendary Oakland, California, blues producer, Bob Geddins, Sr., and “Keep It Like It Is,” written by blues great Jimmy McCracklin, all of the selections on the Jasman Records’ CDs were written in whole or in part by Ms. DeSanto.
She was the only female act on the bill with the American Folk Blues Festival that toured Europe in 1964. Other headliners included Willie Dixon, John Henry Barbee, Sleepy John Estes, Clifton James, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Lightnin Hopkins, and the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson. This Lippmann and Rau Production was publicized as “featuring the best Blues Artists of America.”
The song “Hello, San Francisco” is the latest chapter in a prolific career that has taken Ms. DeSanto from her hometown to Chicago (where she wrote and recorded many classic slides for Checker) and back again. Her latest albums magnificently demonstrate that she is one of the most talented and versatile artists that has ever come out of the San Francisco Bay Area or anywhere else.
While Ms. DeSanto has made many memorable records over the years, such as “I Want to Know,” “Slippin’ Mules,” and “Soulful Dress,” it is her live performances that people particularly never forget. “Classic Sugar Pie,” released in 1997 (Jasman 10004), was recorded in New Orleans with arrangements by Wardell Quezergue.
Wardell Quezergue’s list of credits include work with Alan Touissant, Fats Domino, Wilson Pickett, and the Neville Brothers. We were more than pleased with the arrangements he gave us, which are groove to the bone.
Except for “Never Say Die,” “Bread & Butter,” and “Don’t Worry about Me,” the other songs were recorded in the 1950s and 1960s. They’re presented here with contemporary arrangements that appeal to many fans. Although musical pundits might pigeonhole this CD as R&B, country and Western fans who listen closely to “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool,” “Crazy Lovin”, and “I Don’t Want to Fuss” will enjoy them as much as Ms. DeSanto’s regular followers.