Music Online. Under the Radar
“Saucy walked the walk and talked the talk over seven decades. She had a fan club with mostly female members around the globe who wore a button – ‘I Walk For Sauce’”.
(1920 – 2017)
Welcome to our weekly Sunday music section
“Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians.”
By David Eisenstadt
TORONTO. September 18, 2022 – Her stage name was “Saucy Sylvia”, and her career spanned 70 years.
Sylvia Cadesky was born in Owen Sound, Ontario, on July 27, 1920. Somewhere along the line, she changed her surname to Cadeski, which was the norm for so many Jewish (and other) performers back in the day.
Sylvia was a classically trained pianist, singer, and radio personality who also made her name and fortune as a comedienne in the United States. She certainly flew under the radar.
Her father Samuel and mother Tillye were Russian immigrants, descendants of one of Owen Sound’s Jewish community founding families dating to 1905. Samuel was one of 12 children born to Isaac Ezekiel Cadesky (and his wife), for whom the then Town’s synagogue, Beth Ezekiel, was named.
Young Sylvia grew up in nearby Mount Forest (about an hour’s drive south of Owen Sound), and started playing piano at six, learning from the nuns at the Sisters of St. Joseph Academy. Apparently, there were no Jewish piano teachers and it appears that in her adult years, she was not a practicing Jew. In high school she played in a country and western band, eventually moving to Toronto and graduating from the Royal Conservatory of Music. Sylvia Cadesky graduated from the University of Toronto with a master’s degree in languages and a teaching degree and during that time, hosted her own radio show on CFRB-AM (now Newstalk 1010).
Saucy Sylvia Radio Show May 1978
But the bright promises of a show business career beckoned. She moved to the United States where she caught the eyes (and ears) of jazz drummer/bandleader Barney Rapp (and His New Englanders) who hired her as a vocalist. She also got a singing gig and her own “Sylvia Show” at Cincinnati, Ohio radio station WLW (known as the “Nation’s Clear Channel”) because it could be heard coast-to-coast. That was where the Clooney sisters, Rosemary and Betty, as well as Doris Day also sang.
As host of the “Sylvia Show”, she interviewed well-known talented performers like Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. Sylvia loved singing and was good at it, adding some comedy to her repertoire, all happening during a five-year run at a Cincinnati night spot. She moved to Arizona where a promoter dubbed her “Saucy Sylvia” and pressed/released two albums – Sex Is The Thing That Started It All and 0069. Over the years, she also worked at radio stations in Detroit, Michigan W.J.R. and WINS in New York.
Saucy walked the walk and talked the talk over seven decades. She had a fan club with mostly female members around the globe who wore a button – “I Walk For Sauce”.
Part of her performing shtick was asking audience members their names and from where they resided. She’d then include each person’s name in songs and comedy which hit a positive note with fans of all ages. She was an ardent American as a naturalized citizen.
Work was a labour of love for this dynamo. In 1970, Sylvia moved to Newport, Rhode Island where she became something of an icon. While entertaining locally, she also hosted for 26 years, one of the last live music radio shows on WADK. Her second husband Mike Mureddu wrote, produced, and directed her weekly efforts, sometimes appearing as a guest.
Very active in the community, Sylvia became President of the Newport Rhoda Island Federation of Musicians, a position she held for about 20 years. Along with Ella Fitzgerald and George Wein, she was inducted into the Newport Jazz Hall of Fame in 2002. Saucy won many awards from the City of Newport and the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame in 2014. Her shows always included patriotic songs and it was reported that she enjoyed having her audiences join in to sing “God Bless America” with her. “I treasure the United States and have always felt that this country did everything right and helped other people and other countries. A lot of people don’t agree with that. When we can help people, we do, she said.”
Saucy Sylvia Cadesky-Cadeski Stoun Mureddu died at age 96 on May 25, 2017, and was married twice; first to the late Meyer J. Stoun and then to the late Michael L. Mureddu.♦
Credits: Photo Maurice Seymour, Chicago; jetpakpro/YouTube.
David Eisenstadt is the author of Under the Radar, 30 Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians. He is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary.
A complete list of David Eisenstadt’s articles can be viewed under Music Online in our category section. Do you have comments or questions about this article? Contact David Eisenstadt at