Inspired by the art of American writer and activist James Baldwin, Stew and The Negro Problem explore Baldwin’s trailblazing legacy through songs co-written by longtime collaborator Heidi Rodewald, co-creator, along with Stew, of the Tony Award-winning musical Passing Strange
. An irreverent and spirited rock and roll song-cycle, Notes of a Native Song
is a high-energy blast of music, video, and spoken word that captures the essence of the man who spoke uncomfortable truths about gender, race, and class division. The show confronts the more complicated aspects of Baldwin’s life and ideas, even as it celebrates his lasting impact.
Stew won the 2008 Tony Award for Best Book for his Broadway hit Passing Strange
, which played to sold-out crowds in Toronto earlier this year (The Musical Stage Company and Obsidian Theatre). The Broadway show was documented in a film by Spike Lee, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. Fronting his genre-bending band The Negro Problem, in their Canadian debut, Stew narrates a highly personal and provocative account of Baldwin’s lasting influence with wild humor and an irresistible mix of psychedelic soul, art-damaged-pop, and twisted jazz.