Sami Yusuf is a British singer-songwriter, composer, producer and an accomplished musician. Endowed with a strong cultural affiliation to music; privileged with a musical background and having studied music with several renowned composers, including those from one of the world’s most prestigious music institutes – the Royal Academy of Music in London, “music is his destiny” was an unsurprising prediction made by his acquaintances.
Sami learned to play several musical instruments including the piano, violin, tar, tombak, santour, daf, tabla and oud, to count a few, at a very young age. He bore the passion to etch a mark in the field of music, which he so indelibly did with the release of his groundbreaking debut album, Al-Muallim – an album composed, produced and sung by him. The album not only sold well over 7 million copies but also earned him a massive following in the Middle East, North African nations and South-East Asia. The subsequent release of his second album, My Ummah, saw his popularity grow even further, selling well over 8 million copies.
Sami was soon headlining CNN, the BBC, ABC, Al Jazeerah, and every mainstream TV channel in the Middle East and Turkey. Hailed by Time magazine as Islam’s biggest Rock Star and The most famous British Muslim in the World by The Guardian, it was only a matter of time before sheer dynamism of what the media dubbed a popular act became the subject matter of think-tank studies. Transnational Broadcasting Studies, in two separate papers lauded Sami’s state-of-the-art music videos a beacon of positivity and substance; his music an alternative and competitor to the mainstream Western music. His success was soon acknowledged by the University of Roehampton in south-west London, as a result of which, Sami became the first and the youngest Muslim recipient of the honorary Doctor of Letters award in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to music. In attainment of this prestigious award, he not only stands alongside Mark Twain, J.K Rowling and Robert Frost but is also one of the only three musicians in the world to be ever honored thus.
His music not only filled the airwaves of London and LA but also penetrated effectively in the conservative Arabian Peninsula. Sami has performed live across four continents, packing prestigious venues such as Wembley Arena in London, Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and The Velodrome in Cape Town, South Africa. His concerts are trim and tightly focused, complete with singing in English, Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Urdu, Azeri and Malay and include a multitude of both classical and ethnic instruments. His penchant for multilingualism teamed with simplicity of conduct makes his style a statement, and his shows an experience of a lifetime.
Sami is one of the UK’s biggest exports in the last decade. His compass, in principle, has been his self-coined genre – Spiritique. Manifested both musically and philosophically in his third album, Wherever You Are selling well over 4 million copies, Spiritique is a product of Sami’s identity. Sami is a passionate advocate of unity and is boldly committed to cross-cultural appreciation through promotion of universal values and celebration of the human spirit. The aim is to bridge the gap between perceptions and sense of incompatibility, and to foster spiritual autonomy so we may usher into a new era of cooperation and coexistence. When different races stand side by side, when young and old, pious or agnostic, male or female sing in one voice; that’s when Spiritique shines. An ambitious undertaking it may be to some. To many, it has already begun.
Yusuf’s fourth album, Salaam, was globally released in December 2012. The physical version was released on 22 December, while the digital version was released later, on 24 December. The fast-selling album achieved a worldwide success with Platinum sales in South East Asia; the album went Gold in less than 24 hours of its release.
His most recent album, The Centre, is characterised by deeply touching, devotional music, which impressively combines Arabic influences with state-of-the-art ‘Western’ production values. Composed, arranged, produced and almost entirely self-performed by Sami, his new songs are rousing, the melodies catchy and deeply moving and all captivate with the inherent power of spirituality.
Fame and glory however are illusionary for Sami. For him, his position as an artist is a sacred trust, a trust best honored in serving humanity. His genuine benevolence is reflected through his unwavering commitment as United Nations Celebrity Partner to reach out to those in need throughout the world. He launched a campaign in partnership with United Nations World Food Programme to help end hunger in the Horn of Africa that has been hit by its worst drought in the last 60 years. He has been relentless in assuming his responsibilities as the first global ambassador of Silatech – a Qatar-based initiative promoting entrepreneurial skills and open access to capital and markets for large-scale job creation in the MENA region. His Live8 concert in Wembley Arena raised millions of pounds for the victims of the conflict-laden region of Darfur – an effort recognised and praised by the British government. Sami also took the initiative to work in close tandem with the UN sponsored charity, Save the Children, to help uplift morale of the victims of 2010 Pakistan floods by sending a message of hope and undying support through his charity single, Hear Your Call. The single became the mouthpiece of awareness campaigns led by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, BBC and the CNN.
The above is an edited version from his official website. Check it out to get your hands on one of his awesome albums, or maybe even catch him in concert!
Haven’t heard any songs from his new album? We’ve got you covered, listen to The Centre here: