4 Avril 1999, England
Winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award at the age of 17 in 2016 changed the life of Sheku Kanneh-Mason and set him on the road to becoming one of the world's most exciting young cellists, not least for his unlikely arrangements of material like Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' and Bob Marley's 'No Woman No Cry'. He even became the subject of a TV documentary 'Young, Gifted & Classical: The Making of a Maestro' which added to his already high profile, leading up to the release of his first recording, a three-track EP that included Casal's 'Song of the Birds', Bloch's 'Abodah' and Fauré's 'Après un Rêve'.
From a musical family and attending a state school in Nottingham, England, his first instrument was the violin but, wanting to outdo his brother who also played violin, he turned to the cello instead because it was bigger. Winning a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Music he was tutored by Ben Davies and spent a lot of time travelling backwards and forwards to London where Chi-chi Nwanoku, founder of the Chineke Orchestra, saw him playing a concert with his sister Isata and brother Braimah and invited them to join.
In 2015 he and his siblings entered the 'Britain's Got Talent' TV show performing as the Kanneh-Masons and, although they didn't win, Sheku said he'd gained valuable experience which stood him in good stead for the BBC Young Musician competition a year later, becoming the contest's first black winner in its 38-year history by playing Shostakovich's 'Cello Concerto No. 1'. He subsequently signed a record deal with Decca Classics on a Nottingham City transport bus which was then named after him and went on to perform at London's Royal Albert Hall at the 2017 British Academy Film Awards.
Artist biography compiled by BDS/West 10. All rights reserved