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Albert Rhett Stuart

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Albert Rhett Stuart Obituary
Albert Rhett Stuart Died October 11, 2009 from an aortic dissection. He was born September 18, 1931 in Newport News, VA and reveled in memories growing up on the banks of the beautiful and wide James River. Rhett showed an early aptitude and interest in music. Despite formal piano lessons, he learned the songs he loved by ear and played throughout his life in F-sharp (the black keys). In his 20s he moved to New York to become a Broadway singer/actor. He lived there through the decade of the fifties, studying voice and immersing himself in Broadway's heyday of musical theatre. Rhett interned as an NBC page and loved sharing tales of the stars that came before his desk. In 1961, he came west and played a Zook brother across from his real brother, King, in a production of Plain and Fancy at the Pasadena Playhouse, before following the coast up to San Francisco. In the early 70's Rhett began to direct his love of rhythm and voice into poetry. He often said he loved nothing more than a blank page and he wrote on a daily basis. Musicality and joy of word play influenced his work, which he read at dozens of San Francisco venues, riffing on reminiscences and daily life. Years of training as a singer and at the National Academy of Broadcasting came through in the mesmerizing smoothness of his lovely, baritone voice. In a culture where it's not always easy to find those who follow the bohemian credo, Rhett was a mentor and an inspiration to many. He made connections throughout the art community of San Francisco, much of it in the Tenderloin. He attended writing workshops at Hospitality House and the Tenderloin Reflection and Education Center, where he also sat on the Board of Directors. Rhett was a great believer in treating oneself with kindness, just as we would others we care about. Deeply spiritual and philosophical, Rhett helped establish the Tenderloin Self-Help center and was one of the original peer counselors who went to Esalen for training in reflective-listening. In 1989 his book Man OffBeat was published by Freedom Voices, and reprinted in 1990 and '94. This past decade, Rhett enjoyed creating colorful sketches while continuing to write and play music. He generously shared his work with family and friends. Rhett is survived by three cherished brothers-King, William, and Gray-and a large, extended family. He will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure to know him. A celebration of his life and art is being planned and will be announced on his memoriam website at FreedomVoices.org.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Nov. 15, 2009
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