09 May 2013 -

When Sixto Rodriguez received a philosophy degree from Wayne State University in 1981, the school had no idea it was graduating a folk hero.

Then again, even Rodriguez was unaware of his fame.

‘Sugar Man’ Rodriguez received a Doctor of Humane Letters on Thursday during the university’s commencement ceremonies at Ford Field.

The Motor City musician has been recognized for his “musical genius and commitment to social justice.”

Rodriguez album cover

Rodriguez’s two albums in the early 1970s went largely unnoticed in the United States, but he was unknowingly gathering a following in South Africa during the apartheid era. He was the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man.”

After his music career fizzed stateside, Rodriguez worked several jobs around Detroit, ran for public office and obtained his bachelor’s degree.