Friday, October 10, 2014


At the end of last year the father of our land program woman came for a visit.  He left us a movie, a documentary about  a singer who never made it in the USA. It sat on my desk for months- I did not like the cover- thinking: egads! One day I thought why not?  It turned out to be one of the best movies I have seen. I showed it to the Community and then Oblates and our Land Program young people. I also sent a copy to Father Scott, who is also from Detroit. All agreed - very special!

tells the incredible true story of RODRIGUEZ, the greatest '70s rock icon who never was. Discovered in a Detroit bar  (The Sewer) in the late '60s by two celebrated producers struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics, they recorded an album which they believed would secure his reputation as the greatest recording artist of his generation. But the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome on-stage suicide. Amazingly enough a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero. Their investigation leads them to a story more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist known as Rodriguez.

"Searching for Sugar Man" is a 2012 Swedish–British documentary film, which details the efforts of two Cape Town fans in the late 1990s, Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom, to find out whether the rumored death of American musician Sixto Rodriguez was true, and, if not, to discover what had become of him. Rodriguez's music, which never took off in the United States, had become wildly popular in South Africa, but little was known about him there.

On 10 February 2013, the film won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary at the 66th British Academy Film Awards in London, and two weeks later it won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards in Hollywood. It won 14 other International awards.

Rodriguez declined to attend the award ceremony as he didn't want to overshadow the filmmakers' achievement if he came up on stage with them. Upon accepting his award, Chinn remarked on such generosity, "That just about says everything about that man and his story that you want to know."

His career initially proved short lived, with two little-sold albums in the early 1970s and two Australian concert tours. Unknown to him, however, his work became extremely successful and influential in South Africa, and continued to retain a loyal following in Australia. According to the film-makers of the documentary about him, Searching for Sugar Man, at one time he was arguably more famous than Elvis Presley in South Africa, though he was mistakenly rumored there to have committed suicide. Many thought he was greater than Bob Dylan.

In the 1990s, determined South African fans managed to find and contact him, which led to an unexpected revival of his musical career. This is told in the 2012 Academy Award–winning documentary film Searching for Sugar Man, which helped give Rodriguez a measure of fame in his home country.

Despite his success abroad, his fame in South Africa had remained completely unknown to Rodriguez until 1997, when his eldest daughter came across a website dedicated to him. After contacting the website and learning of his fame in the country, Rodriguez went on his first South African tour, playing six concerts before thousands of fans.

Rodriguez was born in 1942 in Detroit, Michigan. He was the sixth child of working-class parents. He was named Sixto (pronounced "Seez-too") because he was their sixth child. His father had immigrated to the United States from Mexico in the 1920s; his mother was also from Mexico joining many who came to the Midwest to work in Detroit's industries. Mexican immigrants at that time faced both intense alienation and marginalization. In most of his songs, Rodriguez takes a political stance on the difficulties that faced the inner city poor.

Despite his poor background, Rodriguez earned a Bachelor of Philosophy from Wayne State University's Monteith College in 1981 and May 9, 2013, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from his Alma Mater.

Since the cinematic release of  "Searching for Sugar Man" in 2012, Rodríguez has experienced a flush of media exposure and fan interest in the United States, as well as Europe.

While he has certainly made a lot of money in the past 15 years, he has given most of it away to family and friends and after 40 years still lives in Detroit's historic Woodbridge neighborhood, which he is seen walking through in "Searching for Sugar Man".

It is a movie to see, inspiring all, especially the young, to not loose hope, and do do one's best in life. In spite of his "poverty" and hard labor it is quite obvious the way Rodriguez and his three daughters speak in the film, that they had a rich life.

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