The New York Times just published an interview of Yusef Islam, the pop music star formerly known as Cat Stevens (He is on MySpace, by the way.).
I am still a HUGE Cat Stevens fan. I know that many people chose to despised or hate him, and his music, because his conversion to Islam. It did not dampen my enthusiasm. His dropping out of the music scene following his conversion thirty years ago was far more disappointing to me than the conversion itself.
Sometime after 9/11, they found some old film footage of a Cat Stevens concert tour, and they packaged it together under the name Magicat (a copy of which was graciously loaned to me by my friend Brian Banho). In my opinion, the sound quality and performances are not outstanding. However, in the “extras” on the DVD, there is a lengthy interview of Yusef, done post 9/11, which I found utterly fascinating. He looks and speaks like the epitome of a perfect British Gentleman.
In terms of his dropping out of the business, near the end of his career as a pop star, he was burned out and hated what he was doing, and I understand that. You can even see it evidenced on the Magicat DVD in one place where he sarcastically berates a member of his own sound crew for positioning a microphone too low. He sounded like a very bitter soul.
With respect to his statements and actions following his conversion to Islam, I think they have been VERY naïve. As with so many artists in the public eye, he has lofty and flowery emotions that apparently supercede any critical thinking. Over the years he has said and done some incredibly irresponsible things relating to Islam. His Wikipedia entry mentions them briefly. As someone who was a celebrity in the public eye for so many years, I would have expected him to understand the impact of public statments. In the West after all, especially in the U.K., he is looked upon as the public persona of civilized Islam. He bears a great responsibility whether he likes it or not. In particular, I don’t see how anyone can justify donating money to Hamas, even if the money supposedly was going to an orphanage, given Hamas’ history of violence and terrorism.
But how do you like these apples: he is still raking in royalties from his music to the tune of over 1.5 million dollars a year!!! Nice work if you can get it!!!
Some other Cat Stevens Websites (among hundreds/thousands):