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Birth nameMark Stewart
Born (1961-08-16) August 16, 1961 (age 62)
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, playwright

Mark Lamar Stewart (born August 16, 1961), known by his stage name Stew, is an American singer-songwriter and playwright from Los Angeles, California, United States.[1]


The Negro Problem

In the early 1990s, he formed a four-piece band called The Negro Problem which in 1995 released a box set collection of singles including an innovative cover of "MacArthur Park" and a multi-part pop operetta entitled "Miss Jones".[2]

Solo career

He later went on to release albums under his own name. His 2000 release Guest Host was named Album of the Year by Entertainment Weekly and his 2002 album, The Naked Dutch Painter and Other Songs, repeated that feat. He toured in support of Love's Arthur Lee in 2002 and in 2003 he was invited to take part in the Lincoln Center's American Songbook series of concerts.


Starting in 2004, he began writing the book, lyrics and music (with Heidi Rodewald) for his semi-autobiographical rock musical Passing Strange, produced with the support of the Sundance Institute and The Public Theater, which won him the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Lyrics. Also in 2004, he wrote and performed "Gary's Song" for the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Have You Seen This Snail? (Where's Gary?)", which aired the following year, and is credited with giving him his first broadcast exposure.[3] In 2006, he and Rodewald continued to produce Passing Strange as well as working on a film project with The Sundance Institute. Passing Strange had successful runs at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, California, in the fall of 2006, and off-Broadway at The Public Theater in New York City during the spring of 2007. It received critical praise from both the New York Times and Variety and opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre in February 2008 under the aegis of producer Liz McCann and the Shubert Organization. The play garnered seven Tony nominations in 2008, with Stew receiving four nominations and winning the award for Best Book. The play closed in July 2008, with Spike Lee filming the final performances for a feature film which screened at the Sundance Festival in January 2009.

As Stew and The Negro Problem

"Making It," at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn in February 2010.

He is current airing a live show and accompanying album titled Notes from a Native Song, inspired by the writings of James Baldwin, with Heidi Rodewald and members of The Negro Problem.[4]


Stew is Professor of the Practice of Musical Theater Writing at Harvard University.[5]


With The Negro Problem

As Stew

With The Lullabies

With Double Naught Spy Car + Stew

As producer

Awards and nominations


  1. ^ "Stew | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  2. ^ Current Biography Yearbook Maxine Block, Anna Herthe Rothe, Marjorie Dent Candee – 2007 – Page 517 – "In late 1995 they released a collection of singles (including an innovative cover of Richard Harris's "MacArthur Park" and a multi-part pop operetta entitled "Miss Jones") in a limited-edition boxed set. Then, after Blair filled in as keyboardist for the British band Elastica's lucrative U.S. tour, she returned to the Negro Problem with enough money to buy an eight-track recorder, which the group used to record their first album, Post Minstrel Syndrome"
  3. ^ Sontag, Deborah (May 21, 2007). "A Musical Star Plucked From the Underground". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  4. ^ Anderson, Tre'vell (December 13, 2016). "Stew & Heidi take on James Baldwin in 'Notes of a Native Song' – Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  5. ^ "TDM Instructor Spotlight: Stew Stewart". Retrieved December 11, 2022.
  6. ^ Enos, Morgan (November 28, 2018). "The Best Musician Guest Appearances on 'SpongeBob SquarePants'". Billboard. Retrieved February 11, 2023.