FILM: ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ and Sixto’s Overdue Honor
He’s been called a prophet, the accidental rock star, an enigmatic music legend whose back story teeters between mythical proportions and modest realities, yet Sixto Rodriguez embodies the real deal. Ahead of his time and U.S. audiences in the 1970s, this Detroit singer/songwriter (best known simply as Rodriguez) made poignant protest music _ releasing two albums, Cold Fact and Coming from Reality _ which fell on deaf ears in his homeland only to become the “soundtrack” to many South Africans’ lives, according to Searching for Sugar Man, an acclaimed documentary by director Malik Bendjelloul.
In South Africa, Bendjelloul details in the July 2012 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, “Rodriguez’s popularity rivaled that of the Rolling Stones … however, Rodriguez was completely unaware of his international notoriety and never received any royalties.” Years passed and rumors circulated that he’d committed suicide, prompting two avid South African fans to launch an earnest search for “Sugar Man.” The documentary focuses on their “discovery” of Rodriguez still alive and well in Detroit, and how this lost treasure (now 70 years old) has reconnected with thousands of fans around the world, reigniting a new interest in Rodriguez’s message in his music.
Before I go any further, I must thank Angelo Falcon, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, for bringing an important movement under foot to my attention _ a grassroots effort petitioning the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to recognize Rodriguez in a long, overdue honor. Without question, this man’s time has come.
Rodriguez site: http://sugarman.org/
Kennedy Center petition via change.org: https://www.change.org/petitions/kennedy-center-honor-sixto-rodriguez
National Institute for Latino Policy: http://www.latinopolicy.org/
The Guardian (U.K.) article on Rodriguez: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2012/sep/03/sixto-rodriguez-sugar-man-returns
Huffington Post on Rodriguez: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/rodriguez-60-minutes-sugar-man_n_1947767.html
New Yorker magazine article: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sashafrerejones/2012/08/searching-for-sugar-man-malik-bendjellou.html