Sufjan Stevens is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He first came to wider recognition with the 2000 album, A Sun Came, which was released on the Asthmatic Kitty label he co-founded with his stepfather. He is perhaps best known for his 2005 album, Illinois, which hit number one on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart, and for the single “Chicago” from that album.
Stevens has released albums of varying styles, from the electronica of Enjoy Your Rabbit and the lo-fi folk of Seven Swans to the symphonic instrumentation of Illinois and Christmas-themed Songs for Christmas. Stevens makes use of a variety of instruments, often playing many of them himself on the same recording, and writes music in various time signatures. Though he has repeatedly stated an intent to separate his beliefs from his music, Stevens also freely draws from the Bible and Christian tradition.
Many of his songs have spiritual allusions, but Stevens does not identify as a contemporary Christian music artist or frequently discuss religion with the press. He told The Village Voice, “I don’t think music media is the real forum for theological discussions. I think I’ve said things and sung about things that probably weren’t appropriate for this kind of forum. And I just feel like it’s not my work or my place to be making claims and statements, because I often think it’s misunderstood.”
During a 2004 interview with Adrian Pannett for Comes with a Smile magazine, when asked how important faith was to his music, he responded, “I don’t like talking about that stuff in the public forum because, I think, certain themes and convictions are meant for personal conversation.” In a 2006 interview, he said, “It’s not so much that faith influences us as it lives in us. In every circumstance (giving a speech or tying my shoes), I am living and moving and being.In a 2010 interview, Stevens acknowledged that he is a Christian. He has continued to reflect on Christian themes in his songs and identifies as a Christian.