This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Searching For Sugar Man, a film nominated for Best Documentary Feature at tonight's Oscars is of local interest.

Dreaming of becoming a rock star is not unusual. The odds of that happening for most of us are  a million to one. What are odds of having that dream come true   and not even knowing about it until 30 years after the fact, when  two fans dismissing the rumors of your death, decided to come looking for you, and actually "find" you in Dearborn Michigan ?  A Billion to one ?

That is the story of  Searching for Sugar Man,  a 85 minute documentary feature nominated for best in it's category at tonight's Oscar presentation. It is not hard to think of  possibilities that make the true story plausible. In the late sixties  and early seventies Motown still ruled the Motor City and nationwide there were  many talented artists and groups vying get to their music published to  compete for shelf space in stores.

Sixto (pronounced (Seesto) Diaz Rodriguez had talent and  got two albums published. They didn't sell well in this county  and the publisher  didn't encourage Rodriguez to continue. Rodriquez had  success  with his music in South Africa in the seventies where his anti establishment, pro urban working class  lyrics become a large portion of the anti apartheid anthem. In South Africa  Rodriquez is often compared to the likes of Dylan, the Beatles, and even Elvis. South African Human rights activist Steve Biko was reported to be a fan
ThumbnailHow popular Rodriquez was in the Southern Hemisphere in the 1970's is a subject of debate. Critics of the documentary say he was never as far removed from the music  scene as  the film implies. One album  did go platinum in South Africa and he toured in  Botswana, Australia, and  New Zealand. Proponents of the documentary  that is hardly the top of the music world.

In 1981 Rodriguez graduated from Wayne State's Monteith College. He later ran for public office in Detroit but was not successful . He also held a series of urban construction jobs like building demolition which did not pay particularly well.  In 1980's and 1990's his music activity  diminished   as well. He was not aware of his popularity in South Africa until a daughter happened on a South African website that purported to be looking for him. A widely accepted rumor in that country was that  Rodriguez had died on stage years prior.

Monteith College Alumni in the News:
Sixto Rodriguez (PhB '81) 
Wall Street Journal (July 20, 2012):  A Rock 'n' Roll Mystery

If you are interested in seeing the documentary, Searching for Sugar Man it is currently playing at

The full movie  is also available at Netflix (no streaming. Just the disk by mail) or on You Tube for $3.99 by clicking here,
If you would like to see a You Tube 14 minute clip about Rodriguez and  the documentary which appeared on CBS 60 minutes click here .

  Will the documentary win an Oscar ? In South Africa they are confident it will. In this country the Rodriguez story is certainly popular but the competition for the Academy award is this year is rather  fierce. If it loses it won't be anything new. As the sayings go a prophet is not recognized in it's own land  but it is hard to keep a good man down.

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