Who is Sheku Kanneh-Mason? Star British cellist’s age, family, albums and more revealed

5 April 2024, 14:29

Sir Simon Rattle conducts cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the London Symphony Orchestra in Trafalgar Square
Sir Simon Rattle conducts cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and the London Symphony Orchestra in Trafalgar Square. Picture: Alamy
Classic FM

By Classic FM

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.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason is a 25-year-old British cellist who won the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year award, becoming the first Black musician to win the award since its launch in 1978.

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.

Read more: Sheku Kanneh-Mason, barred from boarding flight with cello, calls for better airline protocol

Sheku Kanneh-Mason was made an MBE in 2021 for his services to music
Sheku Kanneh-Mason was made an MBE in 2021 for his services to music. Picture: Getty

How old is Sheku Kanneh-Mason?

Sheku Kanneh-Mason was born in Nottingham, England in April 1999 – making him 25 years old.

Read more: Sheku Kanneh-Mason: ‘Every child would benefit from music lessons’

Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays 'Sarabande' from Bach's Cello Suite No. 5

Who are Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s family?

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.

Read more: Who are the Kanneh-Masons? Discover all the talented siblings

Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason
Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason. Picture: PA

What instrument does Sheku Kanneh-Mason play?

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

What albums has Sheku Kanneh-Mason released?

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.

A year later, Sheku released a duet album with his elder sister, Isata, at the piano. Muse (2021) is a celebration of the music of Barber and Rachmaninov.

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'

What are Sheku’s concerts?

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.