Sunday, April 1, 2012

Blasian Chart Toppers in the US

For the longest time, as far as I knew, there had never been a blasian American singer – until Amerie came out in the early 2000s.  When I found out she was Korean-African American, I decided to support her before I even heard her music.  It was such a novelty to purchase the music of someone who had the same parentage as me.

Amerie & her mother
Amerie's name tattoo in Korean

Born to an African American father (Charles Rogers) and a Korean mother (Mi Suk), Amerie's first language was Korean, and she lived in South Korea for 3 years as a child.

Amerie's debut album was released in 2002, and her debut single, "Why Don't We Fall in Love" peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.

There have been a few other blasian singers since Amerie, but had there been incognito blasians recording in the US before Amerie hit the music scene wearing her ethnicity on her sleeve?  Then I discovered Sugar Pie DeSanto – the 1st blasian chart topper.

Sugar Pie DeSanto was born Umpeylia Marsema Balinton.  She is the daughter of an African American mother and a Filipino father.  As a child, she spoke English and Tagalog and still speaks a little Tagalog with family.

In 1960, DeSanto's single "I Want to Know" reached #4 on Billboard's R&B chart.  This was her biggest hit and her highest charting hit.

A blasian hit singer over 50 years ago.  Who knew?

Selected Sources:
* A website for the benefit of mixed-race families and individuals, "Amerie's Happy to Talk About Ethnicity", September 1, 2008.
* San Francisco Bay Guardian, "Gimme a Little Sugar", March 12, 2003.

1 comment:

  1. The Rhythm & Blues Foundation's Pioneer Awards recognize those artists whose lifelong musical contributions have been insturmental in the development of Rhythm & Blues music. On September 9,2008, as part of its 20th Anniversary celebration, the Rhythm & Blues Foundation proudly honored Ms, Sugar Pie DeSanto for her distinctive work as an individual artist.