Searching for Sugarman

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

By now I'm sure most of you have heard of the musician Rodriguez. The almost mythological man whose music went largely unknown in the United States for over 20 years, but whose career (unbeknownst to him) soared in South Africa and helped stoke the fires of apartheid for them.

My co-worker and I saw the new documentary Searching for Sugarman this past weekend and it was beyond fantastic. Sugarman is indeed a story of how one lowly, humble person with a voice so powerful and moving came to be exalted. There are so many incredible messages to take a way from the film, but for me the thing that stuck out the most is that if you have a destiny, if what you are doing is meant to bring about change for the better, then no amount of hardship, isolation, deprivation or time can stop you from fulfilling that destiny. Rodriguez could have stood next to some of the greatest giants in folk and rock music during the time they were all selling out shows and making fans crumple from excitement. But a lack of promotion coupled with what was possibly being in the wrong city at the wrong time for his music (Detroit in the 60s was largely dominated by Motown and soul/funk music), resulted in Rodriguez taking up construction work to support himself.

Meanwhile, across the waters people were waking up to his music and lyrics that spoke to the daily struggle of living in poverty. And thank goodness for the two South African fans turned investigative journalists who spent the better part of their days tracking down information about Rodriguez through reading his lyrics. And major kudos to the Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul for helping to bring hist story to the world. It's so fascinating. Please please check it out at your nearest theater. Support documentaries and great music :)

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