The world-renowned music genius Sami Yusuf is in town this weekend to greet his Turkish fans with a musical feast. An ethnic Azerbaijani born in Tehran and a frequent visitor to Turkey, Yusuf is no stranger to Turkish culture and is music wise. Often mentioning that he feels at home in Turkey, in a recent interview with Sabah newspaper he also said he would like to collaborate with Ömer Faruk Tekbilek, who is the world's foremost exponent of Middle Eastern music and a multi-instrumentalist virtuoso.
Always a messenger of love and peace, Yusuf sees Turkey as his second home and might consider actually buying one here. Describing the secret of his success as sincerity, he usually states the importance of positive energy and his family and fans' support. Educated at one of the world's most prestigious institutes, the Royal Academy of Music in London, Yusuf comes from a privileged musical background. However, music has been in his destiny since the age of three, when he started marking his talent by composing single melodies. He gave his first performance at the age of nine, but his father discovered his genius when Yusuf mastered a book on the Persian instrument, tombak, within minutes. The same had taken his father months to figure out.
As a young, good hearted and mannered British-Muslim, he soon became the talk of the town, his fame spreading to faraway lands. He produced his debut album at the age of 23. The album sold seven million copies and gained a massive fan base in especially the Middle East, North African nations and South-East Asia. Classified "Islamic Pop," Yusuf's music inspired many other Muslim artists. What distinguishes him from many other musicians singing religious songs and hymns are his fans, who see a leader in Sami, with many admitting that he changed their lives.
Yusuf's success escalated with his second album, "My Ummah," which sold about eight million copies. Hailed by Time magazines as "Islam's biggest rock star" and "the most famous British Muslim in the World," by the Guardian, he soon was headlining international news channels such as CNN and Al Jazeera. The youngest and the first Muslim to receive an honorary Doctor of Letters award in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to music, Yusuf also stands alongside the likes of Mark Twain and Robert Frost.
However, fame and glory have never been a priority for Yusuf. He derives the most satisfaction from serving humanity. He has been involved in campaigns by the United Nations World Food Program and the first global ambassador of Silatech, a Qatar-based initiative for creating jobs in the MENA region. He also joined a Live 8 concert at Wembley Arena and worked with the "Save the Children" campaign.
Sami remains to be one of the U.K.'s biggest exports, winning hearts of millions across the Middle East, North Africa, America and Europe. Yusuf's fourth album was released in December 2013, which became one of the bestselling albums in the Middle East and North Africa.
Istanbul (Daily Sabah)