First, listen to Go Go Power and tell us you don't want to dance to Sugar Pie's music. ;-)
Next, listen to the Etta James/Sugar Pie deSanto duet, In The Basement. Now tell us you're not just a tad curious about being invited to a basement party.
Martina McBride and Kelly Clarkson recently remade In The Basement. Sugar Pie appreciates that her music is being rediscovered (Kelly sang her part), but some of their promoters dubbed it "originally an Etta James song." They seemed to have forgotten Sugar Pie who, in In The Basement, Part 2, sang and improvised the lyrics without Etta. Another Etta/Sugar Pie duet, Do I Make Myself Clear, tells of strong women who tell their guys they're not girls to be fooled with.
And now, the Sugar Pie DeSanto legend
Can you name the Blues music legends in this picture?
This photo is from the American Folk Blues Festival that toured through Europe in 1964 and influenced many musicians from the UK including The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. From left to right in the photo: Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, Sleepy John Estes, Sonny Boy Williamson, Sunnyland Slim, Lightnin' Hopkins, Hubert Sumlin...all legendary Blues men! The only woman in the group, 3rd from the right, and the youngest, is Sugar Pie DeSanto.
Sugar Pie is the center image in this record album cover. See above.
Once called the "Lady James Brown," Sugar Pie opened for James Brown at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Every night, Sugar Pie whipped the crowd in to a frenzy that he needed to make sure to step up his performance to avoid a letdown. "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" later said that Sugar Pie made him "wooork!" Also part of the act for the Godfather of Soul was Tina Turner who once asked Sugar Pie why she was getting all the applause. Sugar Pie replied, "You gotta mooove girl!" Tina got the memo.
Sugar Pie grew up with Etta James and they were both signed to Chess Records, the illustrious Chicago music label. The two sang three powerful duets: (Do I Make Myself Clear, Somewhere Down The Line, and In The Basement.) All became hits. While Etta is a household name, Sugar Pie became the hidden gem. Lucky fans who have seen Sugar Pie perform live still talk about her energetic performances. When you search her name on YouTube, you often encounter artists that have covered her songs. There are even a new generation of DJ's that play her music in clubs and parties. When the R&B Foundation finally honored her with a Pioneer Award in 2009, she got up and killed it! See for yourself: Sugar Pie's Pioneer Award.
Who is this wild woman?
We will tell you through the documentary film. You will learn about her beginnings: a Filipino immigrant father and an African-American mother, a family of 11 or so children, that included Etta James at some point, in a small house in the Fillmore district of San Francisco, a girl gang, sneaking into music clubs, joining music contests and winning too often, to finally being discovered and renamed by the great Johnny Otis --- from Umpeylia to Little Miss Sugar Pie. You will discover the driving force behind her music, the connection it has to her life, and how her mother influenced and encouraged her, even though her father disapproved. She will also tell us about the Fillmore renaissance, the Chicago music scene and Chess Records, the American Folk Blues tour, more on Etta, and performing with James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding and other music greats. You will also hear about her unique experiences in the South as an African Asian woman working the "chitlin' circuit" with her husband Pee Wee Kingsley, and finally coming home to her native San Francisco.
Her contributions to various American popular music genres (Blues, Rock 'n Roll, R&B, Soul, Pop, etc) exceed more than 100! She wrote most of her songs in addition to others for well-known musicians like Fontella Bass, Little Milton, Billy Stewart, Minnie Ripperton and many more. She is the undisputed "Queen of the West Coast Blues" and a legend in her own right!
This documentary is our way to honor her contributions, to remember and rediscover her music, and relive the way she lit up the stage! This is the recognition she never received, but truly deserves.
Team Sugar Pie
For her storyteller, Sugar Pie has chosen Auraeus Solito/Kanakan Balintagos, an independent filmmaker acclaimed in Cannes, Sundance, Berlin, Toronto and other major international film festivals, and included among the the top emerging and most-talented filmmakers in the world. Auraeus directed the international hit Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros); winner in Berlin, selected at Sundance and nominated for an Independent Spirit Award (for Best Foreign Film).
Jong de Castro produced the gorgeous Cannes-selected film "Busong (Palawan Fate)," a documentary-like feature film and winner of several international awards including the FIPRESCI Prize at the Eurasia International Film Festival and the "Best of Stories" Merata Mita Award at National Geographic's All Roads Film Festival.
Benjamin Pimentel is a journalist and the author of the novel “Mga Gerilya Sa Powell Street” (The Guerrillas of Powell Street), which won the 2007 National Book Award for fiction in Manila and was adapted for the stage by the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2008. He co-produced “Toxic Sunset: On the trail of hazardous waste from Subic and Clark,” which won the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Jim Moore knows the Blues. Jim previously managed Big Mama Thornton and personally knows many of the originators of popular Blues music. Jim has been Sugar Pie’s manager for over 40 years and was successful in obtaining for her the rights to some of her own songs. He is the owner of Jasman Records and eRoom Music Publishing, and the author of a manuscript, Throw Away People, on the post-WWII evolution of African-American Blues music specific to Northern California.
The Perks: Get To Know The Sugar
We want you to get to know the real Sugar Pie DeSanto through this documentary film, even before its release. The perks for supporting the film are all about that. Receive personal shout-outs from the creative team, posters, and postcards, Sugar Pie's' music, exclusive access to film and music releases, a film wrap-up "basement" party, master classes with Auraeus and Sugar Pie (learn about filmmaking and music performing, respectively), a music recording session, private film screenings and receptions, and the film's premieres. By supporting this film and taking advantage of the perks, you will get to know her more intimately and understand what makes her a first-rate musician, admired by many including other legends of popular music.
We will use the Indiegogo funds to produce the first third of Bittersweet. We will create a teaser for our supporters to view in advance. This is our "Thank you!" to you for believing in us and showing Sugar Pie your love! The preliminary work we produce using the Indiegogo funds will help us raise the rest to complete the film. We will try to get a deal on the film's distribution. Of course if that doesn't happen, we will do the distribution ourselves...we're not distributors but we know enough to get the completed film directly to you. Promise!
Other Ways You Can Help
Be a part in helping us tell Sugar Pie's story and even beyond this campaign, we ask you to support in your own way and capacity.
So, here are other ways to Get Involved.
Share this Indiegogo campaign to your friends and to everyone who loves music. The more people that know about this upcoming music documentary, the better! More supporters will make this film a reality.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you! This is for Sugar Pie!