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Sugar Pie DeSanto

American soul singer

Armando Bellmas
Armando Bellmas
Sugar Pie DeSanto

Today on Ecléctico you're listening to Brooklyn-born, Oakland-based soul singer Sugar Pie DeSanto, who had a string of hits in the 1960s and performed with James Brown, Johnny Otis, and Etta James. You'll go deeper with an excerpt from an article about the song by Alexandra Topping on The Guardian.

"Ask Me" by Sugar Pie DeSanto
1962 | American soul singer

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Ask Me is two minutes and 37 seconds of undisguised pain, belted out in a maelstrom of heartache. It opens deceptively, with two long-held chords, the girl-group harmonies promising a simple soul love song. "Lovers may come, lovers may go," she sings. "Steal your heart, and hurt you so." But with the introduction of piano and strings, the mood changes. "I find/ There's no disgrace," she sings. "When I see the tears roll down my face."

This is the same unashamed anger Amy Winehouse would summon 40 years later for Back to Black. "What if, what if, what if …" whisper the backing singers – and you expect Sugar Pie to suggest some wistful dream for the future. Instead she slaps you down: "What if there's a tear in my eye/ What if you should hear me cry?" It's a challenge. She's saying: Yes, I am crying. Yes it's messy – but so what; what are you going to do about it?

And that is what I love about this song. That combination of desperation and anger, rejection and defiance. This is not a teenager moping around her bedroom after being dumped, it's a proud woman watching herself crying in the mirror because the man she is desperate for does not want her. Because Sugar Pie has not lost her man – she's never had him.

United States

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