Steven Demetre Georgiou or Yusuf Islam may not sound like names for the focus of a Broadway musical, but it may just happen. 1970s recording artist Cat Stevens, who was born Georgiou and then later changed his name a second time when he converted to the Islamic faith, is looking into a musical version of his life. The singer had preliminary meetings in New York as confirmed by a spokesperson for the artist's catalog.
The London-bred singer was born July 1948 to his Swedish mother and his Greek Cypriot father. Islam, who went to a Roman Catholic school, though practiced Greek Orthodox, left school at the age of 16 and, as Cat Stevens, went on to record songs including "Wild World," "Matthew and Son," "Here Comes My Baby," "Morning Has Broken" and "Moonshadow." After contracting tuberculosis at 19, Stevens went on a spiritual search and looked into many eastern faiths, including Zen Buddhism and Taoism, before adopting the new name and religion in 1977.
In the '90s, Islam received much unwanted negative publicity when he seemed to condone the fatwa, or Islamic death sentence, aimed at British novelist Salman Rushdie.
The musical is still a ways off according to the spokesperson, but the idea no longer seems far-fetched with the recent slew of recording artists foraying into the theatre world. Among the pop-to-stage cross-overs include Mamma Mia! featuring ABBA music, Movin' Out scored with Billy Joel music and We Will Rock You featuring songs by Queen.
For many years after he converted, Islam strove to have his pop catalogue removed from circulation. The record company which controlled the rights to his recordings refused to comply. Recently, Islam has relented, telling the press that his old songs actually contain messages of peace and enlightenment of which he approves. — by Ernio Hernandez