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Last Updated:  Monday, 31 March, 2003, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Cat Stevens back in studio
Yusuf Islam
Yusuf Islam is a leading figure among UK Muslims
Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, has recorded his first pop song for 25 years to raise money for children in Iraq.

He has joined stars such as Sir Paul McCartney, David Bowie and George Michael in donating tracks to an album for the War Child charity.

The singer, who changed his name after converting to Islam, has re-recorded his 1971 song Peace Train - his first English language recording since 1978.

There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again
Yusuf Islam
It will feature on a 17-track album entitled Hope due for release on 21 April.

Islam recorded his contribution during a trip to Johannesburg.

"Peace Train is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions of human beings and there is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again," he said.

"As a member of humanity and as a Muslim, this is my contribution to the call for a peaceful solution to the dangerous path some world leaders today seem to be taking."

Islam gave up his music career after recording his final album, Back To Earth, and embracing his new religion.

He is now a leading figure in the British Muslim community.

The Hope album was put together in 25 days.

Sir Paul McCartney provided a version of his track Calico Skies, while George Michael - an outspoken critic of the war - has covered Don McLean's The Grave.

Other artists include New Order, Avril Lavigne, Ronan Keating and Blue singer Lee Ryan.

The recording follows the 1 Love album released in October last year aid of War Child, featuring 16 chart-topping cover versions by artists such as Oasis and Ms Dynamite.

War Child's 1995 album, Help, recorded in just 24 hours, raised 1.25m to help child victims of the war in Bosnia.




SEE ALSO:
Music stars unite for war charity
14 Oct 02  |  Entertainment
Israel bans former pop star
13 Jul 00  |  Middle East


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