Yusuf Islam, the artist who rose to fame in the ’60s and ’70s as Cat Stevens, was named songwriter of the year for the second successive time at the ASCAP Awards tonight (Oct. 11) in London.
The singer-songwriter was also honored for his classic “First Cut Is The Deepest” (EMI Music Publishing), which was a hit for P.P. Arnold in 1967 and was re-recorded by Rod Stewart in 1977.
The artist, who now goes by the name Yusuf, is poised to release this November his first album of new songs in almost 30 years. Produced by Rick Nowels (Madonna, Dido), the set features contributions from former Cat Stevens guitarist Alun Davies and keyboardist Jean Roussel, plus African vocalist Youssou N’Dour. Atlantic Records will handle the release in the United States, while Polydor will issue the set in the United Kingdom.
The release will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the first Cat Stevens record, “I Love My Dog.”
Also at the gala tonight, the prestigious ASCAP song of the year accolade was handed to Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound” (BMG Music Publishing). Written by the band’s Chris Martin, Jonathan Buckland, Guy Berryman and William Champion, the song reached No. 8 on the Billboard 100 chart following its release in mid-2005. The track went on to garner a Grammy nomination for best rock performance and a Brit Award for best British single.
BMG Music Publishing Ltd was named publisher of the year, a trophy bestowed to the music publisher with the most award-winning songs.
The awards recognize those Performing Right Society writer and publisher members whose works are licensed by ASCAP and among its most performed works in 2005. Hosted by ASCAP senior VP, international, Roger Greenaway, the gala was held at the Grosvenor House Hotel.