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Newsmaker: Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens is recording secular music for the first time in 25 years. The folk-rocker, who converted to Islam and took the name Yusuf Islam, has re-recorded his 1971 hit "Peace Train" to raise funds for children affected by the war in Iraq. The ...

Cat Stevens is recording secular music for the first time in 25 years. The folk-rocker, who converted to Islam and took the name Yusuf Islam, has re-recorded his 1971 hit "Peace Train" to raise funds for children affected by the war in Iraq. The multiartist album is titled "Hope."

Early years: Stevens was born Stephen Demetre Georgiou in London, on July 21,1948. He was brought up Greek Othodox but went to Catholic Schools. The West London theatre district was home as well as the location of his parent's restaurant. This proximity to glamour sparked an interest in the entertainment business.

As a child, Georgiou learned to play the piano, then switched to guitar and started writing and recording music.

Career: Georgiou changed his name to Cat Stevens, and, at 18, recorded his first hit, "I Love My Dog." Stevens enjoyed the fast life of a star, but, at 19, he contracted tuberculosis. Since childhood, he'd been introspective. The illness brought that tendency back and paved the way for his Muslim life.

In the late '70's Stevens was introduced to Islam by his brother. He ultimately adopted the religion. Stevens later changed his name to Yusuf Islam and stopped making secular music because he felt that the life of a pop star was incompatible with life as a Muslim.

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Islam is a well known and respected member of the British Muslim community. He runs two primary schools, is involved in charities and has released several Islamic albums since leaving the music business.

Family: Islam is married and has five children.

In his words: "As a member of humanity and as a Muslim, this is my contribution to the call for a peaceful solution to the dangerous path some world leaders today seem to be taking."

Web link: www.catstevens.com

Sources: Associated press, seattlepi.nwsource.com

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