Matisyahu gained fame as the world's first/only Hasidic reggae singer-rapper back in 2004. But the Talmud-minded lyricist confounded fans when he shaved his devotional beard at a SuperCuts in December 2011. Matisyahu, who initially converted to orthodox Judaism at age 19, tweeted, "No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me…no alias." But he assured fans that he had not left his religion next to his follicles on the barber's floor, writing, “For all those who are confused: Today I went to the Mikva and Shul just like yesterday.”
Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam
The folk-pop star who became famous as Cat Stevens converted to Islam in 1977 and changed his name to Yusuf Islam the next year. Increasingly dissatisfied with the spiritual rewards of pop stardom, Stevens partially credits his Muslim conversion to a near-death experience. "After I was swimming for about half an hour, I couldn’t get back to shore. I called out. I said, ‘Oh God, if you save me, I’ll work for you.’ And at that moment a wave, however big it was, came from behind me and pushed me forward and suddenly I had all the energy I needed. I was back on land and safe. Some people would say, well, it was a coincidence. But for me it was life and death. It was a miracle."
The R&B/rock/pop superstar who once wrote songs entitled "Jack U Off," "Scarlet P**sy" and "Do Me, Baby," became a Jehovah's Witness in 2001. He even evangelizes door to door sometimes, asking people if they'd like to talk about God. He told the 'New Yorker,' "Sometimes people act surprised but mostly they’re really cool about it." Since his conversion, Prince refuses to play 'Purple Rain' album track "Darling Nikki" in concert, presumably because it addresses female masturbation by a "sex fiend."
Joseph "Rev. Run" Simmons of Run-D.M.C.
One third of the group that created the aesthetic and tone of modern hip hop became an ordained Pentecostal minister in the mid-nineties. But most people became aware of that mind-boggling career change in 2005 when MTV premiered 'Run's House,' a reality show about his family. After disbanding Run-D.M.C. following Jam Master Jay's murder in 2002, Rev. Run and D.M.C. are reuniting this year for a performance at Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, TX.
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth
Megadeth's frontman began talking about his born-again Christianity in the 2000s. "I got saved a while ago and it's a constant walk. It's something I have to work on every day," Mustaine told 'Decibel' magazine in 2007. He also explained why he won't share the stage with bands who sing about Satanism: "I've never believed in singing about Satan and thinking he's cool, because he's not. When I was 15, I got into witchcraft and black magic, so I've known for over 30 years the power of the dark side, and it took me forever to break those chains. There's no cool way to sing about Satan. You look like a punk." And he's not talking about the Ramones here.
Albert L. Ortega
After helping bring rock n' roll into existence from 1955-1957, Little Richard put it all aside to focus on his born-again Christianity... for about five years. He returned to evangelical Christianity in 1977 and has gone through different levels of religious fervor throughout his life. Since his teenage years, Richard struggled with his faith and his sexuality but eventually found peace: In 1995, he told 'Penthouse' magazine, "I've been gay all my life and I know God is a God of love, not of hate."
Michael Ochs Archives
The Brooklyn MC told Hollywood.tv about his faith in 2007. "I try to understand every aspect of the Most High. For me the Most High is Allah... [and] all praise is due to Allah. I live my life by Islam, at the end of the day that's what grounds me."
The rapper-turned-actor converted to Islam sometime in the 1990s and talked to 'The Guardian' about his faith in 2000. When asked if he was still a Muslim, he responded, "Yeah., oh yeah," but denied involvement with the Nation of Islam. "When you say involved with the Nation, it's tricky. I never was in the Nation of Islam... I mean, what I call myself is a natural Muslim, because it's just me and God. You know, going to the mosque, the ritual and the tradition, it's just not in me to do. So I don't do it."
The shock rock forefather turned to Christianity in the 1980s as he embraced sobriety. He told JesusJournal.com about his beliefs in 2006: "I always tell bands that the most dangerous thing you can do is to believe in the concept of the Devil or the concept of God, because you're not giving them full credit. When you believe in God, you've got to believe in the all-powerful God. He's not just God, He's the all-powerful God and He has total control over everyone's life. The Devil, on the other hand, is a real character that's trying his hardest to tear your life apart. If you believe that this is just mythology, you're a prime target because you know that's exactly what Satan wants: To be a myth. But he's not a myth, of this I'm totally convinced."
The Wu-Tang Clan flowmeister considers himself a Sunni Muslim, but not a Five Percenter. "I’m not a part of the Five Percent Nation. I always respected what the brothers spoke about, but I was never a part of it," he told AllHipHop.com. "Islam for me means peace and submission, so I submit to the will of Allah. At the same time, I know we are in a time where things have changed. I ain’t gonna front, I’ve had babies by ladies that weren’t Muslim, but in my household they had to follow a certain amount of laws about being very clean and no pork in my house and knowing how to raise my kids."
Brian "Head" Welch of Korn
Co-founder and former guitarist for Korn Brian "Head" Welch converted to Christianity in 2005 after kicking a drug addiction. He told BeliefNet.com how God gave him strength to walk away from Korn. "When I gave my life to God, I felt like he gave me the courage to say no to my rock-star dream, to say no to my own desires, and to look at [my daughter] and say, 'Yes, I'm going to be home, and I'm going to take care of you. It's about you now.' So, it wasn't that hard. People think, 'What about all that money and fame?' Well, I had that for 10 years, and it wasn't making me satisfied."
Stephen J. Cohen
Although the critically celebrated rapper made his declaration of Muslim faith at age 19, he just recently changed his name to Yasiin Bey to reflect his faith. "I’m a private person, but I’m certainly not ashamed of what I believe. To not speak about my faith for fear of reprisal would be terrible. If people are uncomfortable with my Islam, they should check themselves."
Although he grew up Jewish and celebrated his Bar Mitzvah, the cynical folk-rocker became a born-again Christian in the late 1970s, a change that was reflected by a string of albums that included 'Slow Train Coming,' 'Saved' and 'Shot of Love.' He began backing away from that conversion in the mid-eighties and his faith since then has almost been as hard to decipher as his lyrics. "Here's the thing with me and the religious thing," he told 'Newsweek' in 1997. "This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don't find it anywhere else. Songs like 'Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain' or 'I Saw the Light.' That's my religion." Dylan was spotted at an Atlanta synagogue in 2007 celebrating Yom Kippur and he released an album of religious-themed Christmas music in 2009. So... who knows.