Rodriguez Has Been Found
(Editor's Note: Searching For Sugar Man is among the films nominated for Documentary Feature for the 85th Annual Academy Awards to be held Feb. 24 in Los Angeles.)
Underground folk/rock musician Rodriguez recently visited The Recording Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., to participate in an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview. Rodriguez discussed the evolution of his music, the popularity of his music in South Africa and the new documentary in which he is featured, Searching For Sugar Man, among other topics.
"Barriers are being brought down by technology through the Internet," said Rodriguez. "The film, Searching For Sugar Man, has excited my music career. So we are touring."
Detroit native Sixto Rodriguez recorded two albums, 1970's Cold Fact and 1971's Coming From Reality, that made little impact in the United States. With his albums failing to attract a wider audience, Rodriguez quit music. Unbeknownst to him, his socially conscious lyrics and unique blend of psychedelic folk rock rose to popularity in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Ultimately, Rodriguez would tour in Australia in 1979 and 1981, and in South Africa in 1998.
The artist's music and improbable career story are the subject of the 2012 documentary Searching For Sugar Man. Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, the documentary details the efforts of Stephen "Sugar" Segerman and a collective of South African fans as they attempt to discover if a supposed Rodriguez death rumor is true, and if not, find out what became of him. The film was showcased at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won a World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary and a World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize for its Celebration of the Artistic Spirit. The documentary's accompanying soundtrack, featuring 14 songs composed by Rodriguez, reached No. 3 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart.
With his music back in the spotlight, Rodriguez has taken a journey from the underground to the mainstream in 2012. Artists such as the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, Sara Bareilles and Kid Rock have embraced Searching For Sugar Man. In August Rodriguez made his U.S. television debut on the "Late Show With David Letterman," performing his song "Crucify Your Mind." Rodriguez has upcoming concert dates scheduled in the United States and Canada and will then embark on a major tour of the United Kingdom. He will be the subject of a profile on CBS' "60 Minutes" on Oct. 7.