Who is Sheku Kanneh-Mason? Meet the Royal Wedding cellist

21 May 2018, 17:26

Sheku Kanneh-Mason
Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Picture: Getty

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle picked the brilliant young cellist to play at the Royal Wedding this May, after he shot to fame for becoming the first musician ever to perform at the BAFTAs twice.

Who is Sheku Kanneh-Mason?

The extraordinary young cellist is a 19 year old from Nottingham, UK, and a current student at the Royal Academy of Music. He has been playing the cello since he was six, and also previously played the violin.

He is one of several talented musical siblings (The Kanneh-Masons), who all competed on Britain’s Got Talent together in 2015.

Isata Kanneh-Mason (21) plays the piano, Braimah (20) plays the violin and Konya (17) and Aminata (12) play both violin and piano. Jeneba (15) and the youngest Kanneh-Mason, Mariatu (8) play both cello and piano. Sheku also plays with his two eldest siblings, Isata and Braimah, in a piano trio.

Here are all seven of them, playing Vittorio Monti’s ‘Csárdás’:

What did Sheku play at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding?

It was announced in early 2018 that Sheku Kanneh-Mason would be among the performers at the Royal Wedding, held at St George’s Chapel in Windsor on 19 May.

Kensington Palace said in a tweet: “Last June, Prince Harry saw Sheku play at an event in London in support of the work of Antiguan charity the Halo Foundation.”

In response, the cellist tweeted: “I’m so excited and honoured to perform at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding. I was bowled over when Ms Markle called me to ask if I would play during the ceremony.”

When the day came, Sheku performed the following pieces:

Paradis - Sicilienne

A favourite amongst cellists, this is a transcription of Maria Theresia von Paradis' most famous work.

Fauré - Après un rêve

It’s described as ‘a dream of romantic flight with a lover, away from the earth, and "towards the light”’ - what could be more apt for a wedding?

Schubert - Ave Maria

One of Schubert’s most enduring melodies, his Ave Maria is an ideal wedding piece - one of those pieces that you’ll know as soon as that tune starts. And as Sheku Kanneh-Mason shows (what a year it’s been for him btw), it suits the cello beautifully.

The whole service was recorded on Decca Records, Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s record label. The footage will be released on 19 May (digital) and 25 May for physical copies.

When did Sheku perform at the BAFTAs?

Sheku performed at the 2017 BAFTA Awards, at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

He then played at the event for a second time in February 2018, making him the only musician to have ever been invited to perform two years in a row.

Joined by four of his siblings, he performed the beautifully haunting ‘Evening of Roses’:

When did Sheku release his debut album?

Sheku released his debut album, Inspiration, earlier this year, which made him the biggest-selling British debut artist of 2018 so far. The album included a classical cello cover of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’.

Inspiration topped the UK classical albums chart, as well as making Sheku the youngest ever cellist to feature in the UK Albums Chart.