Sufjan Stevens (pronounced /ˈsuːfjɑːn/) (born July 1, 1975) is an American singer-songwriter and musician from Petoskey, Michigan.
Some people think he is part of the folk revival in indie pop, but he gets ideas from many things. His music is similar to electronica and the minimalism of Steve Reich. Stevens says that he has plans to make a concept album for each of the 50 U.S. states. He began with Michigan (2003) and Illinois (2005).
Stevens was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Petoskey. He went to Harbor Light Christian School as well as the Interlochen Arts Academy. He also learned at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
Sufjan is an Arabic name that famously belonged to Abu Sufyan, a man from early Islamic history. The name was given to Stevens by the person who founded Subud, a spiritual . Stevens said in an interview, "It sounds like Devendra Banhart kind of grew up in this strange kind of cultish environment, and I don't mean that word in a demeaning way. I think we probably come from similar backgrounds. There's a little bit of that in my history."
Stevens is a multi-instrumentalist, a person who can play many musical instruments. He is well known for his use of the banjo, but also plays guitar, piano, drums, and several other instruments, often playing all of these on his albums by using multitrack recording. When he was in school, he learned the oboe and English horn, which he also plays on his albums. He is one of the few musicians in pop music to use these instruments. A lot of instruments are played in unison to give his songs a "symphony-like" sound. Strings and horns are used very often in many of his songs.
Stevens lives in the Brooklyn part of New York City in the neighborhood Kensington where he makes up the Asthmatic Kitty Records staff of the Brooklyn office. His brother Marzuki Stevens is a marathon runner.