Sugar Chile Robinson

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Frank “Sugar Chile” Robinson was one of the first African American child stars to become a household name. Born in Detroit in 1938, he was a self-taught piano prodigy by the age of three. At age seven, Sugar Chile performed for President Truman at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. He was the first African American artist to ever be invited. Only a kid, Sugar Chile had a record deal, Billboard chart spots, a gig with Count Basie’s orchestra, and movie appearances at a time when few African Americans were seen on the big screen.

Sugar Chile returned to school in the ‘50s and his fame faded, but his legacy remained. In 2016, President Obama invited him back to the White House Correspondents Dinner to celebrate 70 years since his first groundbreaking appearance there. But by that point, Frank was struggling with his health and finances, and had little left to his name after a devastating house fire. The small apartment he shares with his niece had no beds, let alone a piano.

How We Helped:

In 2017, Music Maker got word that Frank was days from eviction and struggling to get by. Dedicated to preserving American roots music by supporting its elderly artists, Music Maker immediately added Frank to their monthly sustenance program and began work to set up his disability benefits. They shipped two beds to his home, and put the word out to get a keyboard donated to Frank. After all these years, Sugar Chile plays again.


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