Obituary: Sue Steward

23rd August 2017  |  News

One of Songlines’ founding contributing editors, Sue Steward, passed away this morning following a cerebral haemorrhage last week


Sue started her career in the music business with Virgin Records in the 70s, followed by a stint working for the Sex Pistols. It was her passion for Latin music that brought her to Songlines and she contributed from the very first issue in 1999 until 2012 when she went on to pursue writing about another long-held love, art and photography. Her book, Salsa: Musical Heartbeat of Latin America (Thames & Hudson, 1999), is still widely regarded as one of the definitive books on salsa. ‘It’s going to be hard to really explain what salsa is…’ Willie Colón warned in the foreword. But Sue did it extremely well in the following 170 pages – tracing its geographical roots from Cuba to the US, from Puerto Rico and Colombia back to Africa. Her apologetic beginning shows just how little-known this music was in 1999 and how Sue was at the forefront of bringing it to a wider world. It was a book that was also easy to read, full of illustrations and photographs, showing that Sue, then arts picture editor at the Daily Telegraph, understood that the imagery and iconography were just as important as the music.

Sue was one of the first movers and shakers of the world music scene in the UK and was a regular contributor on radio and various national newspapers – including the Daily Telegraph, London Evening Standard, The Guardian and more. One of life’s great enthusiasts, she will be sorely missed by her family, the many artists she championed and by all her fellow music-loving friends.

A longer obituary will be published in the next issue of Songlines (November 2017, out September 29).


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