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January : January.
Klaus Voormann (the “5th Beatleâ€) joins Yusuf on two George Harrison songs: “The Day the World Gets ‘Roundâ€ and “All Things Must Passâ€. Proceeds from “The Day the World Gets ‘Round” are donated to aid children and families in Gaza, and both tracks appear on Klaus Voormann’s album, The Sideman’s Journey, with proceeds going to aid the Oglala Sioux of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, North America.
February : February.
Yusuf is in Los Angeles where he records “The Long and Winding Road” for a Paul McCartney tribute album. The session takes place at the Jim Henson Company Lot, the former home of A&M Records and where Yusuf, Carol King, The Carpenters and Herb Alpert used to meet and hang out.
March : March 24.
BBC Radio 2 (Ken Bruce) has the UK exclusive of Yusuf’s new single, “Thinking ‘Bout You”.
April : April 9.
Yusuf features on The Chris Isaak Hour. The one-hour show includes an in-depth, career-spanning interview as well as live performances of several classic songs.
May : May.
LP: Roadsinger. Yusuf’s new mainstream album is released to rave reviews. A bonus track, “Boots & Sandâ€, features as part of the Roadsinger Deluxe CD package on which Sir Paul McCartney duets with Yusuf. ‘Boots & Sand’ was written by Yusuf about the ‘No-Fly List’ saga when, together with his daughter, he was refused entry to the USA in 2004. Drawing on diametric influences from Nashville and Liverpool-rock sounds, Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss and Terry Sylvester also feature on the recording. The album’s title track is subsequently released as a double A-side 7â€ single, along with “Boots & Sandâ€.
June : June.
Yusuf visits Sanafontis, a friend’s private cancer clinic in Freiburg, Germany. Whilst there he undertakes a tour of the facility and, together with Alun Davies, performs a private gig for patients and staff. The next day Yusuf heads to Munich, where Klaus Voormann is launching his album A Sideman’s Journey. He performs “All Things Must Pass” with Klaus and Alun.
Later in the month, Yusuf attends a tribute to Hal Ashby at AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) in Los Angeles. He opens the evening by singing some songs from the Harold and Maude soundtrack before taking part in a panel discussion that includes Jon Voight and Cameron Crowe.
July : July.
Yusuf is a guest speaker at the ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) convention in Washington D.C. He is also appointed as an ambassador for Prince Charles’ charity The Prince’s Trust. Later the same month, on the 21st, Yusuf turns 61.
August : August.
The first festival appearance in nearly forty years for Yusuf, performing at Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival in Oxfordshire. Playing drums for Fairport is Gerry Conway, who toured with Cat Stevens in the 1970’s. British folk legend (and fellow convert to Islam) Richard Thompson joins in on Peace Train.
September : September.
With negotiations complete, Yusuf’s first concert tour in over 30 years begins to take shape. Yusuf reconnects with Harvey Goldsmith, who becomes his manager for the tour. Yusuf decides to break new ground and includes a showcase of a segment of his musical, Moonshadow, within the concert. The preview includes an innovative set design by Marc Brickman and beautiful Illustrations by Dogan Ur. Auditions for the casting of the musical commence in early September.
October : October.
A busy month. Yusuf returns to his old haunt in Clerkenwell, Hugh Myddleton School, to open a brand new building costing Â£2m. With the Moonshadow cast chosen, rehearsals commence in late September at Music Bank in South London.
Yusuf is presented with the Classic Songwriter Award at the Q-Awards ceremony. From there, it’s straight into rehearsals with the band.
At the end of the month, he performs a six-song set at BBC Maida Vale studios, live for Radio 2. He also performs at the museum of Islamic art in Doha, Qatar, during a benefit dinner for the Qatar Foundation which is also attended by Bob Geldof.
November : November.
Yusuf receives the Special Achievement Award at the German Sustainability Awards 2009, along with Jane Fonda. The ceremony is held in Dusseldorf.
Moonshadow Preview enters the final phase of preparations, with cast and band rehearsing together. The entire tour/Moonshadow team is on hand at the historic George Lucas Stage at Elstree Studios (where Star Wars was filmed) for four days. The tour opens in Dublin to a mixed reception from a passionate Irish audience; some of who were clearly unprepared for the Moonshadow segment. The controversy gives the tour an unexpected publicity boost, with considerable media interest in the remaining concerts. Yusuf writes about his experiences in a column for The Times. The show in Birmingham later in November passes without incident and receives acclaim from both fans and press alike.
December : In the city that gave birth to the Beatles, Yusuf is given a rapturous welcome by a packed Liverpool Echo Arena, performing a heartfelt rendition of The Long and Winding Road during one of the encores. Three days later the tour reaches its highlight at the Royal Albert Hall in London. A career-spanning set list also features a special medley of The First Cut is the Deepest, Here Comes My Baby and I Love My Dog.
A few days after the final show, Yusuf returns to Dublin to appear on the Late, Late Show and talk about his experiences in November. Later in the month, he makes his first Canadian appearance in over a decade as chief guest speaker at the Revival the Islamic Spirit Convention in Toronto, where he gives a speech entitled, “On This Boat Called Near and Farâ€.