The legendary YUSUF / CAT STEVENS will play his very first concert on Norwegian soil during Trondheim International Olavsfest 2020!
We, the festival organizers, are exceptionally proud to welcome a true living legend and one of the world’s most beloved singer-songwriters to the Archbishop’s Courtyard on 30 July 2020 — his first concert ever in Norway.
YUSUF / CAT STEVENS is the artist behind titles like 'Wild World', 'Father and Son', 'Where Do the Children Play?', 'Morning Has Broken', 'Moonshadow', and 'Peace Train', and albums such as 'Tea for the Tillerman' and 'Teaser and the Firecat'. His songs, which touched a generation in the 1970s, are still regarded as timeless classics.
Olavsfest has worked for many years to get this very artist to the festival, and thanks to a collaboration with Trondheim Stage it has now become a reality. It is not only his notable musical career, but likewise his equally remarkable life story that makes him especially interesting for a festival that operates at the intersection between faith and society. In 1977 Cat Stevens converted to Islam, took the name Yusuf Islam, and turned his back on fame that he might instead dedicate his life to sincere religious practice and charity. He has, however, over the past 15 years, resumed his career as a musical artist, with a number of critically acclaimed albums.
YUSUF / CAT STEVENS (born Steven Demetre Georgiou) grew up above his parents’ cafe in the heart of London’s West End theatre district.
As a boy he displayed a great talent for illustration, but his dreams of being a cartoonist fell away after the arrival of the Beatles, and young Steven bought his first guitar instead.
Success came early with both his debut single, “I Love My Dog”, and the follow-up single, “Matthew and Son”, which reached number 2 in the British charts. He also wrote the likes of ‘Here Comes My Baby’, which was a transatlantic hit for The Tremoloes, and ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’, later to be recorded to global acclaim by Rod Stewart.
In 1968 the heavy workload of touring, media commitments, and the perks of a pop-star lifestyle took its toll, and Cat contracted a potentially fatal bout of tuberculosis. Following a long convalescence and almost two years away from the industry he re-emerged in 1970 with a new album, Mona Bone Jakon. Gone was the clean-cut teen idol and in its place was a long-haired, bearded troubadour with a new stripped-down acoustic sound whose intimate and sincere songs reached directly into the hearts of a new legion of fans.
Cat’s next album, Tea For The Tillerman, went gold in the US, bringing him international recognition. With such classics as ‘Wild World’, ‘Where Do the Children Play?’, and ‘Father & Son’, the album showed him to be at the very forefront of the emerging singer-songwriter genre. 1971’s Teaser and the Firecat, which featured the likes of ‘Morning Has Broken’, ‘Peace Train’ and ‘Moonshadow’, further cemented his stardom. By the release of 1972’s Catch Bull at Four, which spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard album chart, his musical success had reached its zenith.
Following his contraction of TB in 1968, Cat experienced a sort of spiritual awakening. He embarked upon a journey of personal discovery that is documented in many of his most beloved songs.
In 1975, at the peak of his fame, Cat experienced another momentous and life-changing event. Whilst swimming in the Pacific Ocean off Malibu he began to be swept out to sea. Fearing imminent death, he called to God. He promised that were he to be saved he would dedicate his life to God’s service. At that moment a gentle wave delivered him to the shore and safety. Staying true to his word, he began to take his search for meaning ever more seriously and finally found his true direction when he received a copy of the Quran as a gift from his brother. Finding that it echoed his deepest beliefs and touched his deepest soul, he embraced Islam in 1977. A year later Cat changed his name to Yusuf Islam, and in 1978 he amazed the world by walking away from fame and his career in order to start a family and dedicate himself to charity and the exploration of his faith.
For almost thirty years Yusuf became heavily involved with education and humanitarian relief. He helped to found the Muslim Aid charity and participated directly in their early initiatives throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe. In addition, he founded a Muslim primary school in North London in 1983. In the late 1990s, Yusuf and his wife, Fawziah, established the internationally recognised Small Kindness charity in response to the devastating conflicts in the Balkans. The charity focuses its efforts on the needs of orphans, widows, and families and continues to this day to help the most vulnerable victims of humanitarian disasters.
Also in the 1990s, Yusuf began producing educational recordings on his own label, Mountain of Light. Although little known to Western audiences, Yusuf has produced some of the most popular CDs for children in the Muslim world.
It was the tragic events of 9/11 that motivated Yusuf to, once again, take to the global stage. He spoke out in the media against the atrocities, against fanaticism and war, and called for peace and unity. He began to perform some of his old repertoire again, notably ‘Peace Train’ on account of its message, however, the renditions would often be delivered without instruments in spoken word or a cappella arrangements.
In 2003 Yusuf received the ‘World Social Award’ in Germany from an International World Awards Jury for “dedicating his life to aiding the needy and the ill”, and in 2004 he was presented with the ‘Man of Peace’ award by Mikhail Gorbachev on behalf of a committee of Nobel peace laureates.
Yusuf’s full return to music making came in 2006 with the release of An Other Cup, which was enthusiastically received by critics and fans alike. He has recorded three albums since then, the last one, The Laughing Apple, released under the moniker Yusuf / Cat Stevens to represent the synergy of the two key stages of his career. For this album he received his first ever Grammy nomination. YUSUF / CAT STEVENS was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 and into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019.
YUSUF / CAT STEVENS
Archbishop’s Courtyard, Thursday, 30 July 2020