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How A Detroit Flop Became South Africa's Superstar

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How A Detroit Flop Became South Africa's Superstar

How A Detroit Flop Became South Africa's Superstar

How A Detroit Flop Became South Africa's Superstar

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/171182973/171183447" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Rodriguez carries his guitar through Detroit, Mich., his hometown. Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

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Sony Pictures Classics

Rodriguez carries his guitar through Detroit, Mich., his hometown.

Sony Pictures Classics

Searching for Sugar Man tells the story of the search for musician Sixto Rodriguez. The Detroit-based folk singer released a couple of albums in the early seventies, but those records flopped in the United States.

Unbeknownst to Rodriquez, his albums made their way to South Africa and electrified liberal young Afrikaners who came to consider him a superstar.

"He was like the voice of freedom in a time in South Africa where ... people didn't have freedom. It was this censored, horrible apartheid regime," director Malik Bendjelloul tells NPR's Neal Conan.

"He actually ... without even knowing what he was aiming, changed a society."

Bendjelloul explains how his music made its way to South Africa and the search for Rodriguez decades later.

From 'Searching for Sugar Man'

From 'Searching For Sugar Man' - 'Set Us Free'

'Set Us Free'

From 'Searching for Sugar Man' - 'This Guy Deserves Recognition'

'This Guy Deserves Recognition'