Best Old-School Musical Act
Sugar Pie DeSanto
Sugar Pie DeSanto may no longer jump off pianos and land in a split, as she and James Brown used to do in tandem 48 years ago when she was a member of his revue, but at age 72 she can still roll her hips like Miss Wiggles and other shake dancers she encountered on the chitlin circuit in the '50s and '60s. On occasion, she even hump the legs of men in her audience. The petite Afro-Filipina singer-songwriter, who was born in Brooklyn and raised in the Fillmore, can still belt such hits as "I Want to Know" (a No. 4 national R&B charter in 1960 on the Oakland-based Veltone label) and "Slip-In Mules" in a husky contralto. She always gets a laugh with the line, "Don't wear no high-heal sneakers 'cause they hurt my toeses [sic] so bad," from the latter tune, her 1964 "answer" to Tommy Tucker's "Hi-Heal Sneakers" for Checker Records in Chicago. DeSanto, who barely escaped a 2006 Oakland apartment fire that took the life of her husband, appears Saturday, June 28, at the Monterey Bay Blues Festival.