Dreams Do Come True: Sufjan Stevens At Newport Folk

Sufjan Stevens performed Saturday at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival. (Adam Kissick for NPR)
Sufjan Stevens performed Saturday at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival. (Adam Kissick for NPR)

Sufjan Stevens told the Newport Folk Festival crowd that this was his dream come true. What he never would have imagined in his wildest of dreams was that his performance was to follow a surprise performance from James Taylor. He was humbled to play after "Sweet Baby James," but honestly, his songs carry a power similar to that of Taylor's for a new generation of folk music fans.

Stevens opened with "Should Have Known Better," unfolding the tale of his mom's abandonment at age 3 and taking us on a powerful journey of life, loss and understanding. Other songs from that album, Carrie and Lowell, were performed on ukulele and electronics with a stunning and tasteful backing band.

His set ended on an upbeat note with songs from Illinois, including "Chicago," with an audience both very young and somewhat old, singing in unison and reawakening to the idea that "all things grow."

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Sufjan Stevens told the audience he was humbled to play the same stage as James Taylor.

Sufjan Stevens told the audience he was humbled to play the same stage as James Taylor.

It was only fitting for Sufjan Stevens to bust out his banjo at the Newport Folk Festival.

It was only fitting for Sufjan Stevens to bust out his banjo at the Newport Folk Festival.

Sufjan Stevens capped his Newport Folk performance with songs from Illinois, including "Chicago."

Sufjan Stevens capped his Newport Folk performance with songs from Illinois, including "Chicago."

Sufjan Stevens' sparse songs were fleshed out by a complete backing band.

Sufjan Stevens' sparse songs were fleshed out by a complete backing band.

Sufjan Stevens looked just as happy as his audience when he performed Saturday at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival.

Sufjan Stevens looked just as happy as his audience when he performed Saturday at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival.

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