CAIR: YUSUF ISLAM, ONCE CAT STEVENS, PLANS COMEBACK ALBUM
Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) — Yusuf Islam, the singer who was known as Cat Stevens before he underwent a spiritual conversion, will release his first pop-music album in 28 years in November.
The recording, ”An Other Cup,” will be distributed by Atlantic Records in North America in a venture with Islam’s own label, Ya Records, Atlantic said today. New York-based Atlantic is owned by Warner Music Group Corp.
Islam, who as Cat Stevens wrote and performed such 1970s hit songs as ”Moonshadow” and ”Morning Has Broken,” became a Muslim and changed his name in 1978. His conversion came after he almost drowned in the ocean off Malibu, California. He was prevented from entering the U.S. in September 2004 after being placed on a terrorism watch list by the government.
”I feel right about making music and singing about life in this fragile world again,” Islam, 59, said in a statement distributed by Atlantic. ”It is important for me to be able to help bridge the cultural gaps others are sometimes frightened to cross.”
A native of London, Islam released his first U.S. album, ”Tea for the Tillerman,” in 1970. It has sold more than 3 million copies in the U.S.
After his religious conversion, he dropped out of the music business and worked in charities and educational development, including starting three Islamic schools in London, Atlantic said. More than 1.5 million copies of the songwriter’s recordings are sold each year, according to the label.
After hearing that Islam was preparing a new record, Atlantic Chief Executive Officer Craig Kallman flew to London to meet with the musician.
Return to U.S.
“He was just beginning rehearsals for this album,” Kallman said in an interview. “It was a chilling experience sitting in a very tiny rehearsal room as he was working through all the new material.”
The new album “speaks to the essence of all the great Cat Stevens albums of the past,” Kallman said. Atlantic plans to have Islam come to the U.S. to help promote the album around the time of its release.
In 2004 Islam was denied entry into the U.S. when his plane from London was diverted to Maine and he was sent back to the U.K. Islam was placed on the watch list ”for activities potentially related to terrorism,” Homeland Security spokesman Garrison Courtney said at the time.
“We don’t anticipate any problems in the future when he arrives,” Arsalan Iftikhar, national legal director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in an interview today.