Frank “Sugar Chile” Robinson started playing the piano at 3 years old and seemed to have a natural proclivity for playing the piano, but he chose another route in life.
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3 days after Christmas in 1938…
Frank Isaac Robinson was born. At the age of two, even though neither of his parents were musicians, Frank began to play piano by ear. Just one year later he won a talent show at Detroit”s very own Paradise Theatre wowing the audience with his unbelievable piano blues and jazz abilities on the piano. Around the same time he appeared in the 1946 American film “No Leave, No Love,” he became a national sensation. He went on a national tour and set box office records. In 1946 he even had a chance to play for President Truman at the White House. He later toured with Count Basie and reached as high as #14 on the Billboard R&B Charts.
“Caledonia” from the motion picture “No Leave, No Love” (1946)
In 1952 Frank stop recording and gave up music altogether in 1956. Despite his tremendous talents, he instead decided to pursue a college education. After graduating high school at the age of 15, Frank went on to receive two separate degrees (History and Ph.D. in Psychology) from Olivet College and the Detroit Institute of Technology (respectively).
In late 2007 Frank returned to the stage in Detroit finally addressing the decades-old mystery why such a young talented start just up and quit. This is what he had to say:
“I started out so young I really had no childhood…and I wanted to stop entertaining because I wanted a thorough education. I was raised in show business with a tutor. And the tutor taught school. So when he was in school teaching, all my friends were in school too…and when he came to the house they were out playing, and I was in school. I had to make a decision about whether to keep entertaining or to get an education. And that’s what I did. That’s the reason why you didn’t hear from Sugar Chile in a long time.”
He eventually went on to do production work and also worked at the first African-American owned television station, WGPR-TV. Frank has made several recent musical appearances spanning from 2002 – 2013 but keeps mostly quiet in his Detroit home. See Frank playing as an adult below:
Frank Robinson – the man
A few other fun facts about “Sugar Chile” Robinson
Frank is the youngest of 7 children in his familyHis mother gave him the nickname “Sugar Chile”His song “Go, Boy, Go” was featured in a 2006 Dockers CommercialHe was once disqualified from talent competition for being too youngIn 1948 he became the youngest member the American Federation after their special consent