Sufjan Stevens dedicates new album to late partner Evans Richardson: ‘the light of my life’

Sufjan Stevens sings into a microphone on stage.
Sufjan Stevens dedicated his new album to his late partner, Evans Richardson.
(Colin Young-Wolff / Invision / Associated Press)
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Sufjan Stevens dedicated his just-released album, “Javelin,” to his partner, Evans Richardson IV, who died in April.

Stevens, who is usually private about his dating life, penned a heart-wrenching tribute to Richardson on Tumblr and Instagram, calling him “an absolute gem of a person, full of life, love, laughter, curiosity, integrity, and joy.” He also posted a photo of Richardson with his eyes closed, smiling while lounging in bed.

Richardson was the chief of staff at New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem and chair of the American Alliance of Museums’ Accreditation Commission.


“This album is dedicated to the light of my life, my beloved partner and best friend Evans Richardson, who passed away in April ... He was one of those rare and beautiful ones you find only once in a lifetime — precious, impeccable, and absolutely exceptional in every way,” the “To Be Alone With You” singer wrote.

Near the end of “Call Me by Your Name,” as the story’s two young lovers become utterly liberated — climbing sun-soaked Italian hills next to a roaring waterfall, reveling in their romance — the wistful, whispery voice of Sufjan Stevens furls in like the mist.

Feb. 20, 2018

“I know relationships can be very difficult sometimes, but it’s always worth it to put in the hard work and care for the ones you love, especially the beautiful ones, who are few and far between,” Stevens added. “If you happen to find that kind of love, hold it close, hold it tight, savor it, tend to it, and give it everything you’ve got, especially in times of trouble.

“Be kind, be strong, be patient, be forgiving, be vigorous, be wise, and be yourself. Live every day as if it is your last, with fullness and grace, with reverence and love, with gratitude and joy. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it,” the singer-songwriter concluded.

The pair attended the 2018 Academy Awards, where Stevens performed his Oscar-nominated song “Mystery of Love” from Luca Guadagnino’s romantic drama “Call Me by Your Name.”

Although Stevens had not previously addressed Richardson’s death, his close collaborator Nico Muhly grieved the death in a May Instagram post: “There are no words to express adequately the depth of our loss and our gratitude for his life.”

Sufjan Stevens shared with fans that he has been diagnosed with the rare autoimmune disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome and said he is currently relearning to walk.

Sept. 20, 2023

Last month, Stevens announced he had been hospitalized after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, which left him bedridden and unable to walk for weeks. He called the situation “very scary” and said he was undergoing physical and occupational therapy in hopes of walking within a year.


According to the World Health Organization, Guillain-Barré syndrome is a disorder in which a person’s immune system attacks the peripheral nerves, which can affect muscle movement, and can result in muscle weakness, loss of sensation in the limbs and problems swallowing or breathing.

Stevens said his medical setbacks have prevented him from promoting the release of “Javelin,” his 10th studio album.

Over the last few months, Stevens has shared on Tumblr updates of his recovery and rehabilitation at an outpatient facility, leading up to his release on Thursday.

Though Stevens famously keeps his dating life out of the public eye, love is a frequent theme in his music. In June 2019, he wrote a lengthy essay about love and religion on his Tumblr as a companion to his single “Love Yourself.” Both the essay and song, which were released in the lead up to Pride Month, prompted many of his fans in the LGBTQ+ community to claim both as expressions of queer pride.

The “Javelin” vinyl album includes a 48-page booklet of original art and 10 essays by Stevens, in which he further explores the meaning of love — from his first romance to eroticism to his passion for sound.