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DERRELL STEWART


Derrell Stewart was born October 6, 1934 in Brunswick, GA. At the age of five he started studying piano with a love for gospel music that developed from the all-day singings his father promoted. His mother was the one who really encouraged him to play. She was placed in an orphanage for a short time during her childhood while her mother was having surgery. During this time she heard other kids getting music lessons and would listen outside the door while they practiced. Then she would try to play what she had heard on an old organ in the attic.

She couldn't afford lessons of her own but she promised herself is she ever had children, they would learn how to play the piano. And Derrell was the only child, so play he did. He didn't like to practice in front of other kids, though, so he came up with a brilliant idea. "I ran the clock at the house up so mama would send me to school early and I could practice before anyone got there. When she figured it out, though, I had to do double practice time in the afternoon and miss out on playing ball with the other boys." He practiced and learned as much as he could through his schooling and eventually studied under piano greats like James D. Walbert in Birmingham, AL.

Derrell joined the DIXIE RHYTHM QUARTET at the age of eighteen right out of high school and spent three years developing his much-loved style of playing, singing and comedy. This is also the time period when Derrell started wearing red socks. "While I was with the DIXIE RHYTHM, I was wearing not only red socks, but also red suspenders and a red tie at our dates. When J.G. Whitfield called me in Feb. of 1956, I dropped the suspenders and the tie and just went with the red socks. Later, the record company picked up on it and started putting it in the publicity for the group. I had to wear them after that, and they have been a part of my attire ever since. A lot of fans ask me if I wear them all the time, but I only wear them when I perform because the red dye makes my feet swell up." (Always the comedian)

Derrell has received many awards throughout his career including four SINGING NEWS FAVORITE MUSICIAN AWARDS, one of which was the very first Musician Award, and was recently awarded the piano Roll of Honor at the 1997 Grand Ole' Gospel Reunion. Derrell has been a great friend and inspiration to many of today's piano greats such as Roger Bennett and Anthony Burger, both of whom have came up to Derrell in recent years and thanked him for his encouragement to them in their careers. His home town of Brunswick, GA once honored him with Derrell Stewart Day, and his former classmates gave Derrell a plaque honoring his many achievements.

While he's at home Derrell loves to play his new Baby Grand Piano that his wife gave him for Christmas. "Even though I love and play Gospel, I like to listen to big band and classical music. I enjoy going back to my old training and playing classical pieces while I'm at home. My wife, Reve, and I like to go to flea markets and see what treasures we can find. Last year I found an old pump organ, which reminded me of the one my mama always talked about playing in the attic of that orphanage. I bought it, brought it home, Reve and I cleaned and polished it, and I really get a kick out of playing it now and then.

Derrell wants to thank his lovely wife, whose love even extends to washing his red socks every Monday morning. Derrell hopes that his piano playing and comedy is something that people can enjoy and will help lift their spirits, while keeping the focus on Christ. If you have ever seen Derrell Stewart perform, you have seen one of the funniest and best entertainers in Southern Gospel Music ever. Derrell was a big hit at both the Great Western and National Quartet Convention's Pianoramas. Host Anthony Burger said ,"I'll never have another Pianorama without Derrell there." Look for this legendary pianist on the Gaither Homecoming Videos, the 1998 Pianorama video and anywhere the Florida Boys are performing.