After nearly three decades out of the musical spotlight, Yusuf Islam–formerly known as Cat Stevens–is back with the promise of a new album. Inspired by growing tensions between his beloved religion and the West, the singer-songwriter will be releasing a collection of songs that he originally worked on 20 years ago, according to the BBC.
The new album will be released on the 40th anniversary of Islam’s first record, “I Love My Dog,” which came out in November, 1966.
After he converted to Islam and changed his name in 1977, Yusuf Islam dropped out of the music world and became involved with London’s Muslim community by becoming a teacher and founding a popular Islamic school. Since his conversion, Islam had released several albums of spoken word and religious music (some of which I have and love).
He re-released his hit “Peace Train” in opposition to the Iraq war and has consistently spoken out against Islamic extremists as being contradictory to the peaceful nature of the religion. I can’t help but think his activity on this issue inadvertently led to the strange incident in 2004 when the U.S. refused his entry to this country (when he was coming to receive a peace award from a group of Nobel Peace Laureates) on grounds that he was “a threat to national security.”
So why, after so long, is Islam returning to popular music? In his true humble style, Islam told The Independent that “there were 100 reasons for leaving the music industry, not least because I had found what I was looking for spiritually. Today there are perhaps one hundred and one good reasons why I feel right making music and singing about life in this fragile world again.”
I can’t wait to hear this album.