Born in Columbus, Ohio, to parents Ethel M. and Eugene Stewart, the family moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1972, where Stewart took his first steps toward a career in entertainment. Eventually he gained recognition as a dancer on the nationally syndicated TV show Soul Train. He became a backing vocalist and dancer for R&B/disco group Shalamar, and a few years later he recorded backing vocals for Culture Club‘s 1983 album Colour by Numbers. As a result of this, the group helped him land a recording contract with Arista Records.
Stewart saw success with the single “The Word Is Out” from the album of the same name. The 1986 Frantic Romantic album, which included the hit single “We Don’t Have to Take Our Clothes Off,” went on to become a million seller, and a second single, “Jody,” was released, the inspiration of the song being Jody Watley of Shalamar. A modest success, “Jody” reached both the United Kingdom and United States Top 40.
Stewart’s third album was his most successful internationally. Titled Say It Again, the production was handled largely by André Cymone. Supported by international live dates with his band The Party, the title track became Stewart’s second U.S. Top 40 Billboard hit, and also reached the U.S. R&B Top 10. In the UK Singles Chart it reached number 7, helping the album achieve Top 40 status.
The next three singles all received remixes by Phil Harding. “Get Lucky” (UK #13), “Don’t Talk Dirty to Me” (UK #61), and “Is It Really Love” found European success, particularly in Germany, where “Don’t Talk Dirty to Me” was one of the biggest selling records of 1988, making the Top 5.
His fourth and final album under his contract with Arista Records was What Becomes a Legend Most. In 1989, Stewart sang “Hot and Cold,” co-written by Andy Summers, which was featured over the closing credits of the film Weekend at Bernie’s. In 1992, Stewart teamed up with Chicago producer Jesse Saunders for his last recorded work, an album for Reprise Records, Set Me Free. The title track was released as a single in the U.S., but sold poorly. The album remains unreleased.
Stewart died of AIDS-related liver cancer on March 17, 1997 at age 39 in the Chicago suburb of Homewood, Illinois.
OTHER MUSIC FLASHBACKS
The Mo’Kelly Report is an entertainment journal with a political slant; published at The Huffington Post and www.eurweb.com. It is meant to inform, infuse and incite meaningful discourse…as well as entertain. For more Mo’Kelly, http://mrmokelly.com. Mr. Mo’Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.