Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens
Stevens onstage with his eyes closed and hand raised in front of a microphone with a banjo slung around his shoulder and wings on his back
Stevens performing at Pitchfork Music Festival, July 2016
Background information
Born (1975-07-01) July 1, 1975 (age 43)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer-songwriter
Years active1995–present

Sufjan Stevens (n/ SOOF-yahn; born July 1, 1975) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His debut album A Sun Came was released in 1999 on the Asthmatic Kitty label, which he cofounded with his stepfather. He received wide recognition for his 2005 album Illinois, which hit number one on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart, and for the single "Chicago" from that album. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song and a Grammy Award nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media for "Mystery of Love" from the movie Call Me by Your Name.[1]

Stevens has released albums of varying styles, from the electronica of Enjoy Your Rabbit and the lo-fi folk of Seven Swans to the symphonic instrumentation of Illinois and Christmas-themed Songs for Christmas. Stevens makes use of a variety of instruments, often playing many of them himself on the same recording,[2] and writes music in various time signatures. Although his songs periodically feature Christian themes, he has repeatedly stated an intent to separate his beliefs from his music.[3][4][5]

Early life

Stevens was born in Detroit, Michigan, and lived there until the age of nine, when his family moved to Petoskey, in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. He was raised by his father Rasjid and his stepmother Pat, only occasionally visiting his mother, Carrie, in Oregon after she married her second husband Lowell Brams. His mother is deceased.[6] Brams later became the head of Stevens' record label Asthmatic Kitty.[6] Stevens is of Lithuanian and Greek descent.[7]

Stevens attended the Detroit Waldorf School, Petoskey High School and Interlochen Arts Academy, and graduated from Harbor Light Christian School. He then attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and then earned an MFA from The New School in New York City.[8]

Sufjan is an Arabic name,[9] meaning "comes with a sword".[10] It predates Islam and most famously belonged to Abu Sufyan, a figure from early Islamic history. The name was given to Stevens by the founder of Subud, an inter-faith spiritual community to which his parents belonged when he was born.[11]

A multi-instrumentalist, Stevens is known for his use of the banjo, but also plays guitar, piano, drums, xylophone, and several other instruments, often playing all of these on his albums through the use of multitrack recording. While in school, he studied the oboe and English horn, which he also plays on his albums. Stevens did not learn to play the guitar until his time at Hope College.[9]

Stevens lives in Kensington, Brooklyn, in New York City,[12] where he makes up the Brooklyn staff of Asthmatic Kitty Records.[13] In a 2005 interview, he said he attends an Anglo-Catholic Episcopal Church[14]. His brother Marzuki Stevens is a formerly recognized road runner, who competed in the marathon and other distances.[15]

Other Languages
български: Суфян Стивънс
čeština: Sufjan Stevens
español: Sufjan Stevens
Esperanto: Sufjan Stevens
français: Sufjan Stevens
italiano: Sufjan Stevens
Nederlands: Sufjan Stevens
português: Sufjan Stevens
Simple English: Sufjan Stevens
српски / srpski: Суфјан Стивенс
Türkçe: Sufjan Stevens
Tiếng Việt: Sufjan Stevens