Imagine that you are filmmaker who won an Oscar. You think about how the film was made and realize that even the music score and some animations featured in it are your own. They are there because the film almost didn’t happen. Because funders and producers didn’t believe in it. In this presentation, such a filmmaker will talk about never giving up on a good idea and to find ways to materialize it for the world to see it.
He seemed frail when escorted onstage by two women Wednesday at the sold-out Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. But then he put on his dark-tinted glasses, his floppy black hat and his beige guitar and suddenly he transformed into Rodriguez, musician of mystery, melancholy and that Oscar-winning movie.
“Searching for Sugar Man,” which took the Academy Award this year for best documentary, told the story of an obscure Detroit folk-rock singer whose two albums from the early 1970s had somehow made him into a beloved cult hero in South Africa. Two obsessive fans there started searching for the singer, thought to be dead, and not only found him in Detroit but then brought him to South Africa for a series of major concerts in the late 1990s. It was all filmed and eventually turned into a 2012 movie.
It’s a fascinating story and a terrific footnote in rock history — that Rodriguez’s career was relaunched by an Oscar-honored movie.
And Rodriguez’s concert at the Fitzgerald was as winning as the movie. Maybe more so.
Read more at Rodriguez is sweeter than sugar, man | StarTribune.com.
“I just want to be treated like an ordinary….legend”
With these words, offered in in humility and a little jest, Rodriguez took the stage for the encore of his May 4, 2013 show at the University of Texas’ Frank Irwin Center in Austin, Texas. The show was an embodiment of a dream fulfilled that was brilliantly depicted in the Malik Bendjelloul documentary Searching for Sugar Man.
Malik Bendjelloul is a Swedish filmmaker who was traveling the world looking for an amazing story when he stumbled into South Africa and learned about the legendary Rodriguez. His album “Cold Fact” and its follow up “Coming From Reality” sold over 500,000 albums in the African country. It is credited with helping rally the youth to become anti-establishment and critical of their own government so as to stand and fight against the dark practice of apartheid. To any South African, Rodriguez was, and is, bigger than Elvis or the Beatles.
Read more at ZekeFilm | After the Show: Searching for Sugar Man.
South African music is entering an exciting era of opportunity and progress as new markets open up for homegrown sounds. This was one of the key messages emerging from the 2013 Music Exchange Conference, which saw industry moguls and musicians congregating at the iconic Cape Town City Hall to talk about the serious business of music.
For three days, from 21 to 23 March 2013, the City Hall was abuzz with the sound of music – with a full programme of workshops and panel discussions on making it, marketing it, getting it heard on various platforms and ensuring that it moves with the times.
This independent music conference, now in its third year, attracted hundreds of experts and delegates from across the music spectrum – from composers and publishers to record company executives and media – to share knowledge and ideas, network, perform live showcases and identify opportunities to boost South African music locally, regionally and abroad.
Among the high-profile music creators spotted at the conference were Vicky Sampson, Mynie Grové, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, RJ Benjamin, Chad Saaiman, Jimmy Nevis, Mark Haze, Dub Masta China and Arno Carstens, as well as industry heavyweights such as Universal Music A&R consultant Benjy Mudie, Cape Town Jazz festival founder Rashid Lombard and Rolling Stone SA editor-in-chief Miles Keylock.
The international speakers on the programme included acclaimed house music producer and remixer Charles Webster (UK), music promoter Doug Davenport (USA) and Africori CEO Yoel Kenan (France).
One of the conference’s undisputed highlights was the keynote address by Trevor Jones, moderated by Universal Records managing director Randall Abrahams. Now based in the UK, Jones was born in District Six and is considered one of the top five film score composers in the world, with several Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations as well two ASCAP Awards in the bag.
Jones has made an indelible mark on the global entertainment industry, scoring international blockbusters such as Notting Hill, The Last of the Mohicans, Mississippi Burning and The Mighty and working with the likes of U2, Sting, David Bowie, Sinead O’Connor, Britney Spears, Elvis Costello and Charlotte Church.
Jones became overcome with emotion after being given a standing ovation by delegates, who warmly welcomed him back home.
During his inspirational talk, he spoke about the importance of music education and his desire to give something back to South African music industry: “Key to South Africa’s success is hard work and building a positive perception of our country and us a nation,” he said.
Award-winning local singer, songwriter and guitarist Arno Carstens, who spoke at the conference about the song that made him famous, said it was an honour to be part of Music Exchange and it was encouraging and inspiring to see so many enthusiastic people attend and share their experiences and knowledge.
Joining Carstens on the stellar line-up of artists speaking about the song that made them famous, Vicky Sampson acknowledged songwriter Alan Lazar (formerly of Mango Groove, and now a successful composer based in Los Angeles), who wrote African Dream. “I am grateful that Alan gave me the song and did not pass me up for Mango Groove’s Claire Johnston,” Sampson quipped. She spent every minute of the conference absorbing and learning, as well as reconnecting with her mentor Benjy Mudie and her old friend RJ Benjamin.
Versatile singer, composer and teacher Benjamin, who has been invited to be a vocal coach for the upcoming season of Idols and will be composing SABC2’s new signature tune, continuously urged delegates to make use of social media platforms to reach new audiences. Benjamin stood out as one of the speakers to whom delegates were drawn and his presentations proved to be extremely popular.
After the weekend’s proceedings wrapped up, local music legend Hotstix tweeted: “What a conference; what great speakers and delegates – wow!”
Added a delighted Music Exchange founder and board member, Martin Myers: “We have been completely overwhelmed by the positive feedback we’ve received, and the animated conversations on social media platforms about the success of Music Exchange.
“Recording and performing artists, as well as composers and other industry players, have complimented the conference for being relevant, engaging and thought-provoking. There was a strong focus on the business side of music, which elevated this event above a mere talk shop: they left with useful, practical information that will undoubtedly be of immense value in their various professional ventures.”
Visit www.musicexchange.co.za to find out more about next year’s Music Exchange conference, or follow @musicexchange on Twitter.
Issued by JT Communication Solutions on Behalf of Music Exchange – www.musicexchange.co.za
KAAPSTAD. – Die Oscar-toekenning is die kersie op die koek van ’n merkwaardige reis oor sy held Rodriguez.
Só gesels Stephen “Sugar” Segerman oor die dokumentêre rolprent oor Sixto Rodriguez, Searching for Sugar Man, wat pas ’n Oscar ingepalm het in die kategorie vir dokumentêre rolprente.
Segerman is ’n sentrale figuur in die dokumentêr.
Die rolprent is die verhaal van Segerman en Craig Bartholomew Strydom wat Rodriguez in die 1990’s in Detroit, Michigan, opgespoor en na Suid-Afrika gebring het.
Hy en Strydom was verlede week ook in Hollywood toe die goue beeldjie aan Malik Bendjelloul en Simon Chinn (regisseurs) oorhandig is.
Documentaries are difficult to get right. They can be overbearing, they can be boring and they can often feel as though you are being force fed the personal feelings of the writers and directors.
Having recently won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, one would expect that Searching for Sugarman (2012) avoids these traps. For the most part it does exactly that.
Searching for Sugarman is a heart warming feel-good story about the re-discovery of 1970’s Folk singer Rodriguez.
All you really have to know about this surprising and emotive music doc is that you should see it. Anyone who enjoyed, say, The Buena Vista Social Club or Anvil: The Story of Anvil, will surely go for this too. It tells the unlikely story of Sixto Rodriguez, a gifted but way-under-the-radar Detroit-based Hispanic singer-songwriter – and, like those other films, it enshrines a deeply moving idea that, in our cynical, superficial world, an authentic spirit will somehow, somewhere find its way to listeners’ hearts.
It’s also the remarkably round-the-houses route of Rodriguez’s odyssey which makes Searching for Sugar Man so intriguing. But, to be honest, the less you know about it, the richer your experience will be.
Part of the strangeness of the Rodriguez story is that he was never a star in the first place. Director Malik Bendjelloul treats us to generous slices of his early ’70s albums Cold Fact and Coming from Reality (recorded in the old Lansdowne studios in Holland Park, fact fans). The quality of the material is so striking – phantasmagorical lyrics shape a folk-pop hybrid comparable to Cat Stevens and Nick Drake – that it’s hard to believe the records disappeared without trace after their initial US release. It gets even odder from there, since the filmmaker actually came across the Rodriguez phenomenon in South Africa, where his music had spread like wildfire among a white middle class resistant to the apartheid regime. By the mid-’90s – as the film recounts via interviews, archive footage and even a splash of animation – Rodriguez had sold more records in South Africa than Elvis. But fans were starved of information about their idol. The rumour was that he’d shot himself on stage – a genuine rock ’n’ roll suicide!
In the modern world, celebrity culture has saturated almost every single aspect of our lives. It comes in the forms of the desperation for fame to be found on reality television, glossy gossip magazines and bookstores with entire sections devoted to celebrity hardbacks. In the modern era, a young footballer in his early twenties will already have produced at least one ghost-written autobiography. Z-list actors and one-hit pop stars are more than happy to debase themselves by eating cockroaches in the jungle. Fame has almost overtaken the resulting fortune as the coveted unit of currency and people of all shapes and sizes expressly long for it – or at least their allotted five minutes in the limelight.
In the world of music there are, naturally, alternatives to the pre-fabricated or talent show pop acts that spring up on a regular basis. The world still has many a band who get where they are through long years of graft. But given that current culture is permeated to the highest degree with a desire for fame, the story presented in Malik Bendjelloul’s riveting music documentary, Searching For Sugar Man, is even harder to believe.
Sixto Rodriguez, the star of the best documentary Oscar winning Searching For Sugar Man, is coming to Amsterdam. Paradiso were the first ones to smartly jump onto the recent hype around the ’70s folk singer. The documentary depicts how the Detroit singer’s two unsuccessful albums make it big years later in South Africa (where he is wrongly presumed dead) without him knowing anything about it. Loyal fans from South Africa track him down and find a humble, poor man working in construction who left all his musical ambitions behind long ago. Anyone who saw it will be in love with Sixto. I’ll see you at the concert!
Sixto Rodriguez at Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ
When: May 29th
Where: Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam
Tickets: €27.50, pre-sale starts March 9th
Ben Affleck presents the award for Best Documentary Feature
This room is where the Searching for Sugar Man story all started, and the story just continues to have more and more happy endings …
In the early ’70s, Rodriguez recorded two albums in the United States, working with some of the biggest producers in the industry and even attracting a capable suitor in the form of Motown Records. He only sold more than a handful of records. His records had made it to South Africa, where Cold Fact became a sensation, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Rodriguez talks about his experience discovering his South African fan base and gives some advice for songwriters and musicians. “Searching for Sugarman”, a film on his story won the BAFTA award for Best Documentary and is nominated for an Oscar in 2013. The Film Director talks about his experiences making the film.
No film swept this season’s early nonfiction awards from critics groups, but in recent weeks one documentary has picked up momentum from a number of industry groups. Is there still room for an upset in the race for Best Documentary Feature, or will it be a runaway victory?
“Sugar Man” is far out front with 3/2 odds overall. 22 out of 24 experts, eight out of nine editors, and 79% of users predict it will win.
The film, which tells the story of two South Africans searching for their musical hero, Rodriguez, has been awarded by BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, DGA, PGA, and WGA. It also won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival for World Documentaries.
This is the first Oscar nomination for director Malik Bendjelloul. Producer Simon Chinn previously won this category for “Man on Wire” (2008).