LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - British folk singer Yusuf Islam hopes to return to the United States in December to record a song inspired by his deportation three years ago, he said on Friday.
Islam, who changed his name from Cat Stevens after he became a Muslim in 1978, was denied entry to the United States "on national security grounds" in September 2004. His inbound flight was diverted to Maine and he and his daughter were taken off the plane. Islam had been planning to record in Nashville with country artists, including Dolly Parton.
Apparently no longer considered a terrorist, the peace activist's visa situation has been cleared up, and he later returned to the United States to promote his 2006 comeback "Another Cup," his first mainstream pop album in 28 years.
The 59-year-old London resident has started work on a follow-up, and has written a song about "my little excursion" called "Boots and Sand." Another attempt at Nashville is in the cards.
"I'm planning hopefully to drop in there and finally close that circle (in) December," Islam told Reuters.
Parton will "not necessarily" be on the record, "but she'll be implied in the lyric," Islam said.
The album is off to a cracking start, and Islam is rocking out a little after buying an electric guitar, a Stevie Ray Vaughan Telecaster manufactured by Fender. For most of his career, he was content to strum an acoustic, but he said his son has been encouraging him to experiment.
"At the moment, with the way that we recorded yesterday, doing a song a day, it could be finished in a month ... (and) out just before summer," he said. "But you never know with these things."
The new album is vying for his attention with a planned stage musical called "Moonshadow," which will tell the story of the "search for the perfect world" through both old songs and new. The title character, named after one of Islam's best known songs, is a guide for the hero, named Stormy.
The project is still in the early stages, with no director attached yet, and Islam hopes it will premiere in Europe toward the end of 2008 or in the spring of 2009.
"I've got a lot of people in the States who want to back it and put it on as early as possible," Islam said. "But I think that because I'm over here (in London) most of the time I'd like to see it develop in front of my eyes, where I can actually help it grow."
In the meantime, Islam has just released a DVD featuring his first full U.K. concert in 28 years as well as a BBC documentary and various video clips. "Yusuf's Cafe Session" boasts live versions of such classics as "Father & Son" and "Where Do the Children Play" performed in an intimate session last March at London's Porchester Hall.