Sufjan Stevens

Known as one of the American voices at the forefront of an ultra-sensitive style of nu folk, the music of Sufjan Stevens has actually encompassed a lot of different styles from electronica to art rock to symphonic arrangements. Born in Detroit on July 1st, 1975, Sufjan grew up playing banjo, guitar, oboe and drums and started his career with folk-rock band Marzuki in Holland, Michigan. He was still at school when he recorded his first solo album, A Sun Came in 2000, on which he played a wide range of instruments and mixed pop with various world music styles including Celtic, Moroccan and Indian. On moving to New York, he wrote and recorded his second electronica-influenced album Enjoy Your Rabbit, a song cycle based on the animals in the Chinese zodiac. His 2003 album Michigan was another thematic project inspired by his home state, an idea he continued two years later with Illinois, his spirituality and sense of ambition winning him many admirers. In 2007, an even grander project followed – a symphonic, cinematic suite called The BQE – inspired by New York's Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which developed into a huge live show with a full backing orchestra and dancers. His biggest commercial success, however, came with The Age of Adz album in 2010, which he recorded after suffering a painful debilitating illness affecting the nervous system. Merging folk with hip-hop and disco music, it reached number seven in the US Album Charts. After touring North America, Australia and New Zealand, Stevens took a short break before returning to the studio to record a collaborative EP with Son Lux and Serengeti called Beak & Claw. His 2015 album Carrie & Lowell was inspired by his mother who passed away in 2012 after battling cancer. The album was well-received and Stevens embarked on another collaboration, this time with composer Nico Muhly on a piece about the solar system for the Muziekgebouw Eindhoven. Planetarium, which featured prominent contributions from The National’s Bryce Dessner, was released in 2017, with its lead single “Saturn” leading the way. Two more collaborative albums followed – 2019’s The Decalogue, a classical outing with Timo Andres inspired by the ballet of the same name, and 2020’s Aporia, a new-age LP which found Sufjan Stevens teaming up with his stepdad, Lowell Brams. In 2020, he refocused on his solo career, with the critically acclaimed The Ascension arriving in September.

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