Albert E. Stewart, 54, community organizer and singer

Posted: April 11, 2014

ALBERT E. STEWART was a community organizer who helped countless poor and marginalized Philadelphians with housing and other problems, but, basically, he was a musician.

"He believed in the revolutionary power of music," his family said. And he took that revolution throughout the U.S. and as far away as South Africa with a booming voice full of emotion.

He traveled to the Midwest with the Philadelphia Boys Choir and sang in South Africa with a group that his family said performed for Nelson Mandela. He sang at the Union League with the Jack Faulkner Orchestra.

Albert Stewart, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who came to Philadelphia to lend his special talents and compassion to help disadvantaged citizens and entertain with his robust voice, was killed in a one-car accident March 30 in Germantown. He was 54 and lived in Germantown.

Of his singing, his family said in a tribute: "Al made it look easy. When he sang, there was no warm-up, there were no uncertain notes or missteps of tone. When Al sang, when he lent himself to the lyric, everything and everyone stopped to look, and to listen.

"We stopped because Al was the real deal, we stopped because Albert E. Stewart could blow. We stopped because when we watched Al sing we were witnessing the rare alignment of humanity, purpose and gift.

"We stopped because we were watching a man in his right space, in his right time, doing what he was put on the planet to do."

Al also had other work to do. He helped people who had no other place to turn to deal with a range of urban-related problems, especially those brought on by the mortgage crisis.

Working through such organizations as Southwest Community Development Corp., Centro Pedro Claver and others, Al helped many people save homes threatened by mortgage foreclosure.

"He helped people take back their neighborhoods," his family said.

He also worked with Center in the Park, helping the elderly.

Al was born in Brooklyn and attended St. Ann's Episcopal School, which he said nurtured his artistic talents. It was there that he also met his future wife, Vashti DuBois.

Al went on to Tufts University in Medford, Mass., where he again united with Vashti, and they were later married.

"He was deeply in love with his family and evidenced that love with a complete commitment to the everyday, frontline requirements of being a husband and father," his family said.

"He was Vashti's partner and advocate in every sense, and he was a father and champion to their three children every hour of every day.

"If you were fortunate enough to hear Al sing, then inevitably you were fortunate enough to have him make you laugh. Al was hysterically funny, again making it look easy as he gave an irreverent voice to the things we all would think but not say. Al was loved."

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, Eric and DuBois "Duke" Stewart; a daughter, Ariadne DuBois; his mother, Phyllis Stewart; a sister, Eugenia "Genie" Willis; a brother, Kyle Stewart; and a grandson, Aziah DuBois-Weightman.

Services: A memorial service will be arranged.

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