Ending a 30-year, self-imposed exile from performing in the U.S., Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) roared back to relevance before a packed house at the Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York last night. Hosted by Nic Harcourt of KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic,” the evening was part interview, part music performance. The format alternated between a quaint discussion on a leather settee to a sprinkling of 11 songs spanning Yusuf’s career, including “Maybe There’s A World,” “The Wind,” “Little Ones,” and set-closer “Father and Son.” Appearing a little nervous at first, the singer proceeded to captivate the host of aging hipsters and music literati, which included Patti Smith and Chris Blackwell, by explaining the departures and new courses his life has taken over the past three decades. When asked by Harcourt why it had taken thirty years to come back, Yusuf answered brightly, “Because I have a life.” Detailing his evolution from confused musician to Islamic philanthropist, he spoke of himself as a man who found serenity by walking away from a life that most of us can only dream of.
To listen to the performance, check out KCRW Dec. 21 at 11:15 PST.