(Editor’s note: Chicago music giant Butch Stewart passed away in May. There will be a memorial held for him June 23, 24 and 25 at 1900 Greenwood Street in Evanston, Illinois. Emma Young wrote this moving tribute about Stewart and his company in 2014.)
Good Stewart Productions sits on an industrial street in Evanston. From the outside it looks quiet, but inside — there’ a whole lot going on!
Good Stewart Productions grew out of the successful 34-year old company, JoyArt Music, which was responsible for a plethora of TV and radio jingles including a decade of Oprah Winfrey themes sung by Oprah and Patti Labelle.
Butch and his wife Brenda established Good Stewart as a content production company to make visuals fueled by Butch’s music. The evolution from jingles to content was inevitable.
“Butch has always been passionate about film and production”, explains Brenda. “Music was just the beginning.”
Good Stewart produces the ‘Top of the Hour’ segment on the Tom Joyner Morning Show; a friendship 30 years strong and growing. As “Uncle Butchie” Butch delivers the catchy music tag “Oh-oh-oh, it’s the Tom Joyner Morning Show.”
When the Stewarts approached Tom Joyner with their concept for doing a visual version of ‘Top of the Hour,’ Joyner immediately added it to his website (Black America Web).
Joyner’s Top of the Hour segments include the regular Uncle Butchie’s Live House Crew, local talent such as T.L. Williams and Yemi Marie and stars such as Janelle Monae, Robin Thicke and Melanie Fiona.
Butch also created a line dance called the “TJ Shuffle, ” which featured thirty dancers. The original music and line dance steps were created by Good Stewart and choreographed by Jamie Gant.
Butch and Tom’s relationship also helped to inspire a tribute documentary centered around the “Tuskegee Airmen” fighter-pilots of WWII and “Red Tails” the movie, produced by George Lucas. Joyner’s father was a Tuskegee airman.
One of Good Stewart’s recent projects teamed them together with associate company Brenda Blonski Films to shoot the short-film “Raggedy Man” produced by Sharon Kimbrough.
The other half of the Good Stewart team, son Brandon, edited the project, and son Leslie, wrote and performed the end-credit theme, “Someplace To Go.” The screening took place at ‘A Safe Haven’, a facility that serves Chicago’s homeless.
In February 2014, Butch’s debut music-video “Zero to 60” was released on on iTunes. This video features Butch Stewart as Butch Morrison, country rocker from the “wild mid-west.”
Butch’s wife and partner, Brenda is a talented singer in her own right, with a healthy repertoire of music. Her variety of genres include disco, pop and gospel. The Stewarts produced a ‘Mahalia Jackson’ tribute album for which Brenda sings many of Mahalia’s most memorable songs.
Butch shared that both of his sons, Brandon and Leslie, are making all kinds of great music including hip-hop, rock, pop, dance, R&B, and House.
Good Stewart Productions follows in the tradition of JoyArt in terms of including as many people as possible.
“We’re building the cast of Uncle Butchie’s Live House with musicians, singers, actors, dancers, on-camera people, writers … it’s kind of a musical second-city with our own sound stage,” says Brenda. As if all that is not enough, the Stewarts are also heavily engaged in their not-for-profit foundation, The Art of Making Music Foundation.
Among the many things this wonderful organization does, it also reaches out to established artists and couples them with young people aspiring to make music, and engages them in all aspects of the business.
“The Art of Making Music Foundation is exposing what music, art and production can do for kids,” explained Butch, “We’d like to create the effect of a recording studio with glass walls, where kids could observe watch and learn.”
Of course recording studios can’t have glass walls, but the Stewarts have created specialized programs to bring students in the facility on field trips to take part in hands on multi-media productions.
Good Stewart Productions and the Art of Making Music Foundation are well on the way to providing Chicago, and the Evanston Community, which they call home, with positive, upbeat and heavily-music driven video, film and TV entertainment.
Butch Stewart recently passed away, but what he left behind will live on. For more information on the memorial, call 847-868-8341.