If any of you haven’t had the chance to see it already, then ‘Searching for Sugarman’ has been a standout documentary from this year – a heart warming, inspiring tale of a musician who, whilst unheard off or forgotten (indeed believed to be dead) pretty much every where in the world, became a hero to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa…it’s just he didn’t know it for about 40 years.
Who is this ‘Sugarman’ you ask and why should we, or indeed anyone, be searching for him?
The artist in question is Rodriguez – a Detroit musician, born to Mexican parents, who was signed to Motown in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Touted as a kind of more soulful-sounding Bob Dylan, he failed to set the US charts a buzzin’ and was dropped after 2 albums. Life went on in a series of dead end and low paid jobs…his musical career seemingly a flash in the pan.
Cut to South Africa during the apartheid regime. Rodriguez’s albums become the soundtrack to the anti-apartheid movement, selling millions. Generations of South African youth grow up knowing and loving his songs. Did Rodriguez know about this or reap the material benefits? Nope – because everyone thought he was dead.
Finally 2 journalists decide to go searching for the truth…and in doing so discover not only that their hero is alive, but the remarkable story of his life. Rodriguez, now in his seventies, goes on tour playing to packed houses reverberating to crowds singing his songs…kinda awe inspiring.
I was lucky enough to see the man himself at the Festival Hall in London at the weekend, where he was performing as part of the Jazz Festival . Humble, soulful and shy, this beautiful songwriter, finally getting to enjoy the benefits of all his years’ work, entranced the audience. It was wonderful.
If you don’t know Rodriguez’s songs then here’s a wee taster…
If you haven’t seen the documentary, then…GO TO! Here’s the trailer to get your heart tingling…