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22 January 2024, 09:34
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason is one of today’s most in-demand classical musicians. Here’s everything you need to know about his family, background and albums.
While still a student at the Royal Academy of Music, Sheku played solo cello to a televised audience of two billion at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at St George’s Chapel in 2018.
Two years later, it was reported that more young people were taking up the cello than ever, thanks to ‘the Sheku effect’.
Here’s all you need to know about the Nottingham-born cellist’s extraordinary parents and six siblings, his recordings and his impact on the classical music world so far.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason was born in Nottingham, England in April 1999 – making him 24 years old.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays 'Sarabande' from Bach's Cello Suite No. 5
Sheku’s parents are Stuart Kanneh-Mason, a business manager, and Dr. Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason, a former university lecturer.
The young cellist is one of several talented musical siblings who all competed on Britain’s Got Talent together in 2015. His mother published a memoir in 2020 called House of Music, about parenting seven classical music prodigies.
Isata Kanneh-Mason plays the piano, Braimah plays the violin and Konya and Aminata play both violin and piano. Jeneba and the youngest Kanneh-Mason, Mariatu play both cello and piano. Sheku also plays with his two eldest siblings, Isata and Braimah, in a piano trio.
Sheku has been playing the cello since he was six, alongside a brief spell of playing the violin too.
As of 2021, Kanneh-Mason plays a 1700 Matteo Goffriller cello, which he has on long-term loan.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason takes his cello in for a service
When Sheku released his debut album Inspiration in January 2018, he became the biggest-selling British debut artist of the year so far. The album included a classical cello cover of Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’ (watch below). Inspiration topped the UK classical albums chart, and Sheku became the youngest ever cellist to feature in the chart.
Sheku has since released Elgar (2020), which centres around Elgar’s Cello Concerto, a work he was inspired by from a young age after hearing recordings of the great Jacqueline du Pré playing it. With Elgar, Sheku became the first cellist in history to land a place in the official UK album chart Top 10, in a groundbreaking moment for classical and pop music.
The young cellist’s most recent album, Song (2022), was described as his “most personal album yet”. A celebration of the cello’s unique singing tone, the record spans from simple folk tunes to Beethoven, from jazz melodies to an arrangement of the pop-soul song,‘I Say a Little Prayer’.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays 'No Woman No Cry'
Sheku has concert dates coming up in the UK, US and Europe over the coming months in 2023-24. You can check all of his upcoming dates at deccaclassics.com.