Mark Stewart, known by his stage name Stew, is a singer/songwriter/playwright from Los Angeles. In the early 1990s, he formed a band called The Negro Problem and 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 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. In 2005, he wrote and performed "Gary's Song" for the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Have You Seen This Snail?". In 2006, he and Rodewald continued to produce Passing Strange as well as working on a film project with The Sundance Institute.