Sami Yusuf is a 34 year old British singer, composer, producer and accomplished musician. Endowed with a strong cultural affiliation to music, he learned to play several instruments at a young age, including the piano, violin, tar, tombak, santour, daf, tabla and oud. Studying with a number of renowned composers, including some from the Royal Academy of Music in London, it is no surprise that a life in music became his destiny.
Passionate to make a mark in his chosen field, he achieved this instantly with the release of his groundbreaking debut album, ‘Al-Muallim’ – an album that he both composed and produced. This young British Muslim became a sensation in territories such as Egypt and Turkey, with the album selling over 7 million copies worldwide and gaining him a massive following in the Middle East, North Africa and South-East Asia.
Charmed by his good looks and heartwarming manner, Sami’s younger fans would emulate what they saw in him – a leader – and admitting that his music had changed their lives for the better. Unheard of before, such an artist-fan tandem flourished with the subsequent release of ‘My Ummah’, his acclaimed second album that sold over 8 million copies.
Sami was soon appearing on the BBC, CNN, ABC and Al Jazeera, not to mention 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, he soon became the subject matter of think-tank studies. In two separate papers, Transnational Broadcasting Studies (TBS) lauded Sami’s state-of-the-art music videos as a beacon of positivity and substance and his music an alternative to mainstream Western music. His success was acknowledged by the University of Roehampton in south-west London, who made him the youngest (and first Muslim) recipient of the honorary Doctor of Letters award in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to music. In attaining this prestigious award, Sami not only stands alongside Mark Twain, J.K Rowling and Robert Frost but is also one of only three musicians in the world to receive this honour.
By now, Sami’s music not only filled the airwaves of London and LA but also penetrated the conservative Arabian Peninsula. A staggering 250,000 people packed Taksim Square in Istanbul to see him perform, with the crowd proclaiming ‘He’s one of us’ as they sang along with him in his near-perfect Turkish. Sami has played across four continents, packing out venues such as Wembley Arena in London, Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and The Velodrome in Cape Town. His shows are grand and highly personal, complete with singing in English, Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Urdu, Azeri and Malay, while he and his musicians perform lean and tightly focused sets on a plethora of both classical and ethnic instruments. Sami’s multilingual skills combined with simplicity of conduct makes his style a statement and his shows the experience of a lifetime.
However, fame and glory are illusory. For Sami, his position as an artist is a sacred trust, and one best honoured in serving humanity. His genuine benevolence has been reflected through hiscommitment as a United Nations Celebrity Partner to reach out to those in need worldwide. In partnership with the United Nations World Food Programme he launched a campaign to help end hunger in the Horn of Africa that had been hit by its worst drought in six decades, while he has also 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 headlining concert at 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 lift morale among the victims of the 2010 Pakistan floods by sending a message of hope and support through his charity single, ‘Hear Your Call’. The single became the mouthpiece of awareness campaigns led by the United Nations Office for the co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as the BBC and CNN.
Sami has quietly become one of the UK's biggest exports of the last decade, having masterfully navigated his way through previously uncharted waters and winning over the hearts and minds of millions from across the Middle East, Europe, North America and North Africa. His compass, in principle, has been his self-coined genre – ‘Spiritique’. Incorporating both Middle Eastern and Western harmonics and underpinned by spirituality, it is an all-encompassing and all-inclusive sound, utilising music as a facilitator for spiritual appreciation, regardless of race and religion.
Manifested both musically and philosophically in his third album, ‘Wherever You Are’, Spiritique is a product of Sami's identity. A passionate advocate of unity and boldly committed to cross-cultural appreciation through the promotion of universal values and celebration of the human spirit, his aim is to bridge the gap between perceptions and sense of incompatibility and to foster spiritual autonomy so we may usher in a new era of co-operation and co-existence. When different races stand side by side, whether young or old, pious or agnostic, male or female, they sing in one voice; that is when Spiritique shines. An ambitious undertaking to some, to many others it has already begun.
Sami's fourth album, ‘Salaam’, was released in December 2012. From Asia to America, it received an astounding reception and was promoted via successful shows and performances across the globe. Achieving Platinum sales in South East Asia and going Gold in less than 24 hours following its release, it was among the best-selling albums of 2013 in the Middle East and North Africa and continues to enjoy ongoing success.
On his brand new album, ‘The Centre’, Sami presents a 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. Tied together by a journey of spiritual discovery, they are rich in multicultural influences, having drawn from traditional as well as contemporary Middle Eastern, North African, and European poetry, instrumentation, and melodies. Despite the newness in sound, the message of the album is perennial. Perhaps the first of its kind, 'The Centre' is bound to capture the hearts of those seeking the timeless truths and values of unity, compassion and faithfulness in a more beautiful language.