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Super Music from Muslims like Cat Stevens

Updated on March 5, 2014

Cat Stevens Now Known as Yusuf Islam

Cat Stevens' music caught me up when I was first introduced to it via a cassette tape that a friend put together for me, during the winter of 1988.

During this stunning period, when my 21-yr old son lay in the first month of what would become three months of coma, following a massive TBI, my ears searched for the possible in the domain of the dead.

photo by Velvetgoldmine82 Velvet Goldmine

This new buddy of mine, who formerly orchestrated the song selection for his college radio station, chose from his veritable library of cassette albums, resulting in an eclectic pick of tunes and determinism he thought might be supportive of my newfound advocacy.

I traveled from my university home over a winter mountain pass, 110mi/one way, back and forth each Monday and Friday, to spend the weekdays at my son's bedside.

I popped the gift tape in the car's cassette player, singing along as I tried to wash the sting of the situation from my heart, at least for the drive back home for the weekend. read about it Cogent Advocate

Cat Stevens, under his first stage name, "Steve Adams," signed his first record deal with Ardmore & Beechwood, and presented the world with one of his first demos: "The First Cut Is the Deepest" which roared to the top of the charts and stayed there for a whopping couple weeks.

Two years after he signed, Cat Stevens changed his name from the name of his birth, Steven Demetre Georgiou, to Yusuf Islam, after his conversion to Islam. He chose the name "Yusuf" (Arabic for Joseph) after his namesake, who in the Bible is known for his coat of many colors - although different accounts disclose that the coat may have been striped, or patched in various colored cloth, or of different shades of the same hue, or it may simply have been long-sleeved, or lavishly decorated. Yusuf was the son of Yacoob (Arabic for Jacob).

The coat was one of many incidences of favor that Yacoob bestoyed on Yusuf, and it was such a stunning display of favoritism that prompted Yusuf's brothers to do their best to rid the family of him, by placing him in a well for caravan-ers to find. But their plan failed them and after years, while Yusuf was sold into slavery he eventually became powerful in Egypt, second only to the Pharoh, and was eventually reunited with his father, once his colorful coat was delivered to Yacoob, who recognized it from the scent of his son.

Cat Stevens' conversion to Islam was a pivotal point in his life and music. For years he set aside his music, as far as public performances were concerned, for a conventional Muslim marriage and child-rearing, while he became very involved in the British muslim community and educational system. Yusuf Islam eventually returned to music, producing many albums, including Islamic teaching songs, albums, and programs, and spiritual songs as well.

Georgiou's first public performances were the local staple of coffeehouses & pubs, early on with his little band. He always preferred his own solo performances and took that road, shedding the group.

It occurred to him that his ethnic name might hold him back, so he adopted his girlfriend's nickname for him, and became "Cat Stevens." His girlfriend referenced his eyes as reminding her of a cat, and he liked the picture. It was an easy and cool name, quite the contrast with the long tag "Steven Demetre Georgiou." He also noted his countryfolk's affection for animals, and by extension, he felt that the name would go over big in America.

Before long his performances garnered attention from manager and producer Mike Hurst, who had once sung with the The Springfields a British band. He managed to acquire a deal to record his first demo, with Hurst, inevitably leading to a real record deal. Like a beacon, he became coveted with, I Love My Dog Matthew and Son and I'm Gonna Get Me a Gun all heading into the tops lists in Britain.

Cat Stevens soon appealed to other already established rock and folk artists, who nabbed his talents and soon he recorded with artists like Jimi Hendrix, and Engelbert Humperdinck. His pop music was a fresh addition to the British pop music charts. He landed there with several singles and older artists enjoyed including him in their mix, so he had incredible opportunities to appear in their concerts.

New and popular music was pretty much lumped together, no matter the genre, but that worked to Cat Steven's advantage. The British pirate radio station must be credited with plugging power into his career by playing his music before an attentive radio audience. That was Wonderful Radio London. It surely was wonderful to Stevens, cultivating fans for him, Sadly, that venue closed in 1967, to the chagrin of many bands, players and singer-songwriters.

During that year, 1967, he recorded the initial demo of a song that would, 40 years later, earn, for two years in a row, two ASCAP awards for Songwriter of the Year. That was quite a feat, no doubt unexpected when the album was a flub in the UK. Others, like Rod Stewart, Keith Hampshire, Sheryl Crow and James Morrison, covered the song, The First Cut Is the Deepest to their ultimate success.

Triple Platinum albums are all but common with the artist, notably Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat winning the US award; his In only two weeks after distribution the 1972 album Catch Bull at Four sold a half-million albums, hitting Billboard's #1-LP for three weeks in a row. The First Cut Is the Deepest brought him two ASCAP songwriter-awards, consecutively.

Notably, Cat Stevens' journey of the spirit, his seeking coalesced with his conversion, to becoming Muslim, ten years later, And, as if to mark the inward change, he noted the start of a new focus in life, with a new name: Yusuf Islam. For two decades Yusuf Islam refrained from performing, and dedicated his life to his studies, and he taught, and did philanthropic work, among Muslims, and within the greater society and the world at-large, earning a World Award 2003, the Man-for-Peace Award 2004, the 2007 Mediterranean Peace Prize.

An Other Cup was the artist's first pop album in nearly three decades. It came out in 2006, and he has abbreviated his performance name to the single word Yusuf and put out another album, entitled Roadsinger in 2009. We have Cat back in a beautiful form.

Yusuf Islam Sings Contemporary

From early on Cat Stevens' lyrics voiced an intention to find the Holy One, to achieve a state in sync with Him. He traveled and studied in retreats with holy figures from more than one religious base.

How did Cat Stevens' song lyrics affect you back in the 60s?

Cat Stevens' Songs from the last Century

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      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

      I remember listening to him, but it's a distance and vague memory now.

    • shewins profile image

      shewins 3 years ago

      I loved Peacetrain, Moonshadow, Father and Son , Oh Very Young and Wild World. I was sorry when he disappeared from the music scene for so long. I even heard a rumor that he was dead, I'm glad that isn't so.

    • lesliesinclair profile image
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      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @shewins: Yes, he's very much alive and has taken up where he left off such a long time ago. His spiritual journey continues and sounds great.

    Cat Stevens Early Music Albums

    Catch Bull At Four (Remastered)
    Catch Bull At Four (Remastered)

    Stevens introduces the synthesizer in this album; he has women back-up singers, Jean Roussel keyboard, among Alum Davies and Alan James. Listen to 'Boy with a moon and star on his Head' and it will seal the deal.

     
    Gold
    Gold

    When I hear 'If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out' I burst into song every time! This 2 disc set has some other song-bursters in 'Matthew & Son' and 'Morning Has Broken', and 'Moonshadow.' It's a keeper.

     
    Tea for the Tillerman: Live
    Tea for the Tillerman: Live

    Concert DVD, where Cat Stevens was accompanied by Alum Davies and Larry Steele, from a recording session at KCET Studios in Los Angeles, CA, June 8, 1971.

     
    Mona Bone Jakon (Remastered)
    Mona Bone Jakon (Remastered)

    Original recording, reissued and remastered for crystal clear sound. Some people say it's haunting in its lyrical depth. My favorite is 'I think I see the Light!'

     

    Matthew & Son, Obscure Recordings

    Part 1 Cat Stevens' Conversion to Islam

    Cat Stevens' Amazing Repertoire

    Cat Stevens Greatest Hits (SongTab Edition)
    Cat Stevens Greatest Hits (SongTab Edition)

    Includes: Moonshadow, Peace Train, Wild World, Katmandu, and If I Laugh.

     
    Cat Stevens Complete: Songs from 1970-1975
    Cat Stevens Complete: Songs from 1970-1975

    The complete recorded collection of Cat Stevens from the years 1970 through 1975. Sixty-two songs. Includes: Wild World, Tea For The Tellerman, Morning Has Broken, Moonshadow, and Peace Train.

     

    Part 2 Cat Stevens' Conversion to Islam

    A is for Allah by Yusuf Islam

    Cat Stevens' and the Written Word

    Teaser and the Firecat, a Book in English, French and Spanish
    Teaser and the Firecat, a Book in English, French and Spanish

    Teaser and his buddy, Firecat, embark on a mission to replace the moon back to its spot in the sky. Written with Cat Stevens' flair for lyrics.

     
    Cat Stevens - The Little Black Songbook: Lyrics/Chord Symbols
    Cat Stevens - The Little Black Songbook: Lyrics/Chord Symbols

    This is the essential pocket-sized collection of Cat Stevens hits. Presented in chord songbook format, this book includes complete lyrics and guitar chords for over 140 memorable classics. Don't miss this portable, easy-to-carry format with all of your favorite Cat Stevens songs!

     
    CAT STEVENS COMPLETE CHORD SONGBOOK
    CAT STEVENS COMPLETE CHORD SONGBOOK

    Lyrics and chords to over 130 Cat Stevens songs. Arranged from the actual recordings in the original keys. Includes: Can't Keep it In * Come On and Dance * Doves * Hard Hearted Woman * Moonshadow * Peace Train * Silent Sunlight * Wild World * and many more.

     

    Part 3 Cat Stevens' Conversion to Islam

    Father & Son - Yusuf Islam

    Part 4 Cat Stevens' Conversion to Islam

    Simply Yusuf

    Yusuf Islam now sings under the name "Yusuf." The name references the same prophetic historical person to peoples of the three Arbrahamic faiths, and is an easy catch for others.

    My People - Yusuf, Sings for Egypt - and by extension, for all oppressed peoples who reach for freedom

    Part 5 Cat Stevens' Conversion to Islam

    Peace Train - Yusuf Islam

    Part 6 Cat Stevens' Conversion to Islam

    I Look - I See --- Yusuf

    Part 7 Cat Stevens' Conversion to Islam

    Medley from Bercy, Paris Show - May 26, 2011 - 56 minutes long (or short), however you look at it

    Riz Khan - The music of revolution, with Yusuf - discussion of the lyrics and use of music for social change

    Yusuf Islam Channel on YouTube

    In the End - Yusuf

    This lens is organic in that it flourishes, with your additions. I am interested in your comments. Thanks for leaving your webtracks©2013

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