18-year-old cello player Sheku Kanneh-Mason is taking the music world by storm as he becomes this year’s best-selling British debut artist – across ALL genres – making the Top 20 in the Official UK Albums Chart with his classical album ‘Inspiration’. It entered the main chart at No.18 and is also No.1 in the classical chart.
Sheku makes chart history as the first BBC Young Musician winner to enter the Official UK Albums Chart with a debut recording, as well as the youngest cellist ever to reach the Top 20. He is also the highest-charting BBC Young Musician winner ever.
In addition, Sheku becomes the youngest classical artist to break into the Official UK Albums Chart in almost a decade (since Britain’s Got Talent star Faryl Smith’s debut in March 2009, aged 14). His first recording – which ranges from Shostakovich to Bob Marley – is in the chart alongside albums by Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Rag’n’Bone Man and Fall Out Boy.
Sheku says: “As a classical cellist, I can’t quite believe I’ve made the Top 20 in the pop charts with my first ever album! It has been an amazing experience and I’m very grateful to everyone who’s supported me. I hope the pieces on this album inspire others the way they’ve inspired me.”
Sheku’s album, released last week on Decca Classics, was recorded in Birmingham and his hometown of Nottingham with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) and Music Director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla. It features Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.1 – the piece which propelled Sheku to fame as the first black winner of BBC Young Musician in the competition’s 38-year history.
As part of Sheku’s personal selection of pieces on the album, he also recorded Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’ in his own arrangement for cello. The beautiful version went viral worldwide – with support from the likes of MOBO and Bob Marley’s daughter who shared Sheku’s video. He is the top streamed young classical artist, racking up 2.5 million streams on Spotify alone.
Sheku will be returning to the BAFTAs on 18th February – the first time an artist has ever been asked back to perform. He will be joined by members of his talented musical family (all 7 children play instruments to a phenomenally high standard) in what is sure to be another spine-tingling moment.
Sheku received a ringing endorsement from the family of his cello hero, Jacqueline du Pré: “Jackie would often say, ‘So many cellists can play technically well, but can they make music?’ Sheku makes music. He’s the first cellist since Jackie who has that natural and vibrant abandonment when playing. A sheer delight. Jackie would have loved to meet him.” – Piers and Hilary du Pré.