SHEKU KANNEH-MASON SET TO BE FIRST CELLIST IN CHART HISTORY
Sheku Kanneh-Mason © Jake Turney
14 JANUARY 2020 (TORONTO, ON) - Award-winning cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason is on track to become the first cellist in the history of the charts to earn a place in the UK Official Charts Top 10. The chart position would also make Sheku the first British classical instrumentalist in over 30 years to reach the Top 10 after violinist Nigel Kennedy released the Four Seasons in 1989.
According to the Official Chart Company Midweeks report, Sheku’s album Elgar (Decca Classics) is a new entry at No.6 of the combined album chart, ahead of new releases from Big Moon and Georgia, and No.4 in the digital download chart behind Stormzy’s Heavy is the Head. Elgar is out now on Decca Classics//Universal Music Canada, the country's leading music company.
Sheku’s debut album, Inspiration, charted at No.18 in January 2018, and re-entered the Top.20 at No.11 following his performance at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in May 2018, watched by nearly 2 billion people worldwide.
Rebecca Allen, President of Decca Records, shared her delight in the news: “What an incredible way to begin the new decade! Sheku’s unrivalled success as a young artist shows how classical music can reach people all over the world. He is a credit to his family and teachers, and I’m thrilled that Decca is fortunate to represent him.”
Gennaro Castaldo of record labels association the BPI said: “We are seeing renewed interest in classical fuelled by an exciting new wave of talent led by Sheku and enabled by increased access to music through streaming. Despite his tender years, or perhaps because of his already incredible achievements at such a young age, Sheku is inspiring a new generation to explore and enjoy the genre, while his championing of music education will hopefully encourage many others to learn to play or to access music in schools and in the new government music hubs.”
The news follows a phenomenal week for Sheku, with an album launch and Dolby Atmos screening of his Abbey Road recording session at London’s Soho Hotel. On Friday, Sheku returned to his home town of Nottingham for a very special launch event attended by his family, former teachers, supporters and fans eager to meet “the world’s new favourite cellist” (The Times) at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall.
"I can’t think of a better young ambassador for the triumphs of classical music education today” - i, January 2020
Remarkably still only 20 years old, Sheku was named MBE on the New Year’s Honours List, alongside fellow musicians Olivia Newton-John and Sir Elton John. Speaking of the appointment, Sheku credited the support of his parents, Stuart Mason and Kadie Kanneh, and the music education he received as a child: "I also had incredible support from the state schools I attended in Nottingham where music was promoted for its value in developing listening skills, teamwork, self-expression and hard work.”
Music education provision remains a topic close to Sheku’s heart; he was recently appointed Ambassador for inner-city music charity London Music Masters (LMM), having lead string workshops with local schoolchildren in his role as Junior Ambassador for the last three years. He also acts as Ambassador for Future Talent – a charity supporting young musicians from low-income backgrounds – and for type 1 diabetes charity JDRF. As part of his extensive tour of the USA, which continues into 2020, Sheku directs sessions with students of different ages and abilities. Last year Sheku was presented with the 2019 PPL Classical Award at the O2 Silver Clef Awards, held on behalf of music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins, in recognition of his commitment to supporting accessible music education.
See full list of upcoming live dates here.
Listen to Elgar HERE