Sufjan Stevens: illness, death and faith

From Saturday Morning, 10:05 am on 23 January 2016

American songwriter and performer Sufjan Stevens is one of the most acclaimed American popular musicians of the last ten years.

His latest album, Carrie & Lowell, was inspired by the death of his mother Carrie and was hailed as one of the best recordings of 2015.

Carrie, who struggled with addiction and mental illness and left the family early in Sufjan's life, died in 2012.

Photo of Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens Photo: supplied

He says that the process of writing some of the music for his new album was somewhat traumatic, and ran parallel to his experiences of grief and loss.

"There was an attempt for me to make sense of this experience and to kind of interpret it and analyse and evoke it in music in hopes that it would somehow give meaning or explanation, or help relieve some of this loss I felt."

But as he tells Kim Hill, it didn't really work out like that at all.

Stevens and his band will play songs from his new album and selections from his career, at the New Zealand Festival and Auckland Arts Festival in March.


Kirsten Johnstone reviews Carrie And Lowell

Sufjan on his album Age Of Adz, 2012