Sufjan Stevens

A singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Detroit-born Sufjan Stevens started venturing into the music world while attending Hope College as a member of Marzuki, a folk-rock band based in Holland, Michigan. Following the release of two full-length albums with the group, Stevens decided to go solo in late 1999, investing fully in a career that was waiting to shine by itself. Sun Came, his debut album, appeared in 2000, confirming his superior musical command, complex instrumentation, and sparkling melodies. The promotion of the disc included playing on the road with the Danielson Famile, with whom he began regularly working. The heavily electronic Enjoy Your Rabbit, a song cycle concerning the animals of the Chinese zodiac, hit record stores in 2001, followed in 2003 by Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lake State, a 15-track conceptual piece produced and performed by Stevens -- he played over 20 instruments -- that placed his home state under the writer's microscope. Despite the record's narrowed focus, it was among the best reviewed work that year and made many critics' year-end lists. In 2004, Stevens released his follow-up, Seven Swans, a thoughtful, spiritual, and quasi-mystical collection of standalone songs produced by Danielson Famile mastermind Daniel Smith.