NEW YORK – Big news on the music front: The former Cat Stevens is back with an R&B-influenced album and will tour North America for the first time in more than 35 years, his label said Monday.
Cat Stevens — who changed his name to Yusuf Islam after becoming a Muslim in 1977 — wrote his own blues songs and covered classics for the album “Tell ‘Em I’m Gone,” to be released on October 27.
The British singer, best known for his folk and pop, released a first track from the album, a largely faithful-to-the-original version of Edgar Winter’s 1971 song “Dying to Live.”
Yusuf, 66, said in a statement that he discovered as part of his “50-year musical and spiritual exploration” that he had an “R&B alter-self waiting to be let free.”
“What’s powerful and profound, to me, is the overall message which emerged, lyrically,” Yusuf said.
“It suddenly stared me in the face: the innate struggle for freedom! Isn’t that what most human beings dream of? Music and the blues particularly was a means of escape for many chained to the destiny of the rich and powerful,” he said in a statement released by Legacy Recordings.
Yusuf announced six concerts in North America starting on December 1 in Toronto and ending December 14 in Los Angeles.
Cat Stevens last performed in North America in 1976 when the singer of hits such as “Wild World,” “Father and Son” and “Peace Train” was at the height of his fame.
Yusuf quit touring after his conversion to Islam, playing limited performances — mostly tied to his faith — until his 2006 comeback album “An Other Cup.”
He played small shows in New York in 2006 and Los Angeles three years later, but a North America tour planned after the 2009 performance was canceled after what were described as work visa problems.
Yusuf was refused entry to the United States in 2004 after his name appeared on a no-fly list.
The singer blamed mistaken identification, with his name resembling someone else’s. He won libel suits against two British newspapers that had claimed he supported terrorism.
Amazon.com is offering fans who pre-order Yusuf’s new album early access to purchase up to two tickets for eligible concerts in his upcoming U.S. tour. Check out that promotion here.
Yusuf/Cat Stevens: “Peace Train…Late Again Tour” US Tour Dates
•Dec. 04: Boston, MA – Citi Performing Arts Center – Wang Theatre
•Dec. 07: New York, NY – Beacon Theatre
•Dec. 09: Chicago, IL – Chicago Theatre
•Dec. 12: San Francisco, CA – The Masonic Auditorium
•Dec. 14: Los Angeles, CA – Nokia Theatre L.A. Live
Watch Yusuf Islam perform “Where Do the Children Play”: