Does Cat Stevens Still Sing His Soulful Songs?

Cat Stevens, born Steven Demetre Georgiou in 1948, is a British singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He rose to fame in the late 1960s and early 1970s and released a number of folk rock albums which quickly gained popularity. Some of his most famous songs include “Morning Has Broken,” “Wild World,” and “Father and Son.” Stevens became one of the most popular and influential artists of the era with hits like “Peace Train” and “Moonshadow” ( His introspective lyrics and memorable melodies made him stand out during the age of psychedelic rock and made him a generational icon during the 1970s. However, in the late 1970s Stevens converted to Islam and took a long hiatus from the music industry, changing his name to Yusuf Islam and focusing on philanthropy and education. Despite withdrawing from pop music, Stevens left behind an impressive legacy and catalog of music that is still widely beloved today.

His Conversion to Islam

In 1977, after nearly drowning off the coast of Malibu and feeling like he was called back to life, Cat Stevens formally converted to Islam on December 23, 1977. He took on the name Yusuf Islam in 1978, with Yusuf being the Arabic version of the name Joseph. As Yusuf told Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, “I had thought that I would become a bridge between two cultures to bring them together and make them more friendly.”

cat stevens performing in the 1970s

While Islam welcomed its famous convert, tensions arose in the western world. As The Guardian reports, “the former pop star would become demonised in parts of the media following his conversion.”

His Hiatus from Music

In 1979, Cat Stevens suddenly stopped performing pop music and largely withdrew from public life (Source: This came shortly after his conversion to Islam in 1977 and adopting the name Yusuf Islam. His last album before this hiatus was Back to Earth in 1978.

After becoming a Muslim, Yusuf felt that his former pop music career was incompatible with his new faith. He stopped recording and performing pop music, turned his focus to religious study, and even auctioned off many of his guitars for charity (Source: For nearly two decades, Cat Stevens was largely absent from the public music scene.

His Return to Music

After nearly three decades away from pop music, Cat Stevens released his first new studio album since 1978’s Back to Earth. In 2006, he released An Other Cup under the name Yusuf. The album featured songs with spiritual themes and folk-pop stylings reminiscent of his 1970s work (How the Bosnian war inspired Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ return). While some fans were thrilled to have new music from the singer-songwriter, others were more skeptical due to the controversy surrounding his past comments on Islam and the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

yusuf islam's 2006 album an other cup

An Other Cup reached No. 4 on the UK charts and No. 20 in the US. It marked a successful return to pop music for Yusuf after nearly 30 years (The Unlikely Return of Cat Stevens). The album featured several radio-friendly tunes like “Heaven/Where True Love Goes” and “Midday (Avoid City After Dark).” Yusuf followed it up with 2009’s Roadsinger and 2014’s Tell ‘Em I’m Gone.

Recent Albums and Performances

In 2006, Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, returned to mainstream music for the first time since 1978 with a new album called An Other Cup. He followed that up in 2009 with Roadsinger. In 2014, he released his first album of new pop songs in 35 years called Tell ‘Em I’m Gone and it received positive reviews. That same year, he also embarked on a world tour called “Peace Train…Late Again Tour”, which marked his first series of concerts in the U.S. and Canada since 1976.

In 2017, Yusuf/Cat Stevens released The Laughing Apple, which featured new versions of some of his older songs along with new tracks. The album received a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album. To support the album, he conducted an extensive North American tour in 2018 called the “Yusuf/Cat Stevens: A Cat’s Attic Tour”.

yusuf islam performing live in 2018

Most recently in 2022, Yusuf/Cat Stevens released a new album called Tea For The Tillerman2, which is a reimagined version of his classic 1970 album Tea For The Tillerman to mark its 50th anniversary. He is also scheduled to embark on another European tour in 2023 in continued support of his latest music.

Challenges and Controversies

In 2004, Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam after his conversion to Islam, was embroiled in controversy when he was barred from entering the United States. His London to Washington flight was diverted to Maine after his name was flagged on a no-fly list (The Guardian). Islam was questioned by authorities and then sent back to London, unable to fly to the US (CNN).

Islam was caught off guard by being placed on the no-fly list, unsure why he would be barred from the US (ABC News). The incident caused controversy and confusion over why a popular musician would be considered a security threat. Islam condemned terrorism and expressed bafflement at the accusations. However, he was unable to reverse the no-fly list designation and has not performed in the US since 2004 due to the ongoing ban.

His Legacy

Cat Stevens was an influential British singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the late 1960s and 1970s with hits like “Wild World,” “Father and Son,” and “Peace Train.” He has been called one of the most influential figures in popular music from that era (Cat Stevens: A Legacy of Lasting Favorites | MusicWorld – BMI).

With his unique folk-pop sound and introspective, socially conscious lyrics, Cat Stevens helped define the singer-songwriter movement of the 1970s. Many musicians since then have cited him as an inspiration, including acts like Bon Iver, Vance Joy, and Hozier. His songs have been covered by artists across multiple genres. His music continues to resonate with listeners today.

Though his career was cut short when he converted to Islam and stepped away from pop music in the late 1970s, Cat Stevens left behind a rich legacy as a gifted songwriter and musician. His albums like Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat are considered classics of the era. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 in recognition of his enduring musical influence.

Does He Still Perform?

Yes, Cat Stevens continues to perform and release new music, though not at the prolific rate of his 1960s and 1970s heyday. After taking a long break from music to focus on his spiritual journey and philanthropic endeavors, Stevens returned to touring and recording in the 2000s.

In 2006, he put out his first pop album in 28 years, An Other Cup. The album was well-received, debuting at number 4 on the Billboard 200 chart in the US. This marked the beginning of Stevens’ return to more active music-making. In 2009, he went on his first North American tour since 1978, playing to sold-out crowds.

Stevens has remained active in the 2010s and 2020s as well. He released the albums Roadsinger in 2009, Tell ‘Em I’m Gone in 2014, and The Laughing Apple in 2017. His latest album, Tea for the Tillerman 2, came out in 2020 as a re-imagining of his classic 1970 album Tea for the Tillerman. He continues to tour worldwide, with recent and upcoming shows in the US, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.

Though Stevens is now in his 70s, he shows no signs of slowing down. After decades dedicated to his faith and charitable works, he is again sharing his distinctive voice and iconic songs with fans old and new. While he may never match the breakneck release pace of the 1960s and 70s, Cat Stevens remains a productive, touring musician who delights audiences worldwide.

His Latest Projects

In recent years, Cat Stevens has remained active with his music and philanthropic endeavors. In 2017, he released The Laughing Apple, his first album of original songs in 12 years. The album was praised by critics and peaked at number 19 on the Billboard 200 chart. Stevens supported the album with a small tour in the US and Europe that year.

In 2020, Stevens released Tea For The Tillerman 2, a reimagined version of his classic 1970 album celebrating its 50th anniversary. He worked with producer Paul Samwell-Smith to give the songs new arrangements while preserving their timeless quality. The album received positive reviews, with Rolling Stone calling it “a completely realized and exquisitely executed expansion” of the original.

Though he hasn’t toured recently, Stevens continues to perform occasionally at benefit concerts. In September 2022, he delivered an emotional performance at the Earthshot Prize awards ceremony in Boston. Stevens sang his iconic hit “Peace Train” and called on world leaders to take urgent climate action.

yusuf islam singing at the 2022 earthshot prize ceremony

In addition to his music, Stevens remains devoted to humanitarian and charitable causes. He founded Small Kindness, a charity providing relief to vulnerable communities globally. He also continues to speak out on issues like education and poverty to raise awareness.


In summary, Cat Stevens had an incredibly prolific and influential musical career starting in the 1960s that spanned several decades. Though he stepped away from music for many years after converting to Islam in the late 1970s, his earlier folk-rock albums such as Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat left an enduring mark on the music world. His emotional lyrics and unique blend of folk, pop and rock earned him immense popularity and critical acclaim. After returning to music in the 2000s, Stevens continued releasing new albums and touring internationally, allowing new generations of fans to discover his music while pleasing long-time admirers. Despite controversies later in life, the passion and artistry of his decades-spanning work cemented his legacy as one of the most cherished singer-songwriters of his era, with songs like “Wild World,” “Peace Train” and “Father & Son” remaining timeless classics. Though his touring and album output has slowed in recent years, Stevens’ musical gifts and catalogue ensure his enduring influence lives on.

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