Sugar Brown: The Shade of Blues

Dr. Ken Kawashima, aka Sugar Brown, developed his signature sound -- a visceral and sometimes dark approach to the blues -- at a handful of smokey bars in Chicago's West Side and Tokyo. Playing with a majority of black and white musicians, the issue of race would quickly become the so-called 'elephant in the room' for Kawashima, who is of Japanese and Korean descent. In fact, it was his own skin tone that would inspire Kawashima's longtime mentor Taildragger to bestow him with his stage name, Sugar Brown. In Sugar Brown: The Shade of Blues, filmmaker Justin Lee explores racial issues within music. The film ultimately shows how "there's no essential race to a genre of music," and that it is merely "a fabrication".

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Jeff Woo