The Kanneh-Masons were a classical variety act band who reached the Semi-Finals during Series 9 of Britain's Got Talent. The group consisted of siblings Sheku, Braimah, Aminata, Isata, Jeneba, and Konya Kanneh-Mason.
In their audition they played several musical instruments ranging from the piano, the cello, the violin, the viola, and the guitar. They played a classical piece of music for this performance. Amanda Holden commented the fact that she felt so lucky that the group had come on the show, as 'Normally Classical musicians don't get that good a reaction.' David Walliams added 'How proud must your parents be now, after that?' Alesha Dixon believed that they were 'incredible' and that it could be seen 'how much [they] enjoyed playing together.' Simon Cowell concluded that he was 'Really happy, that [they had chosen] Britain's Got Talent' to compete upon. They advanced through to the next round with four yesses, and later made the Semi-Finals.
In the Semi-Finals they performed a range of classical instruments to another classical piece of music. The group then received a standing ovation for their performance. Despite this they were eliminated by public vote at the end of their Semi-Final.
Sheku, Isata, & Braimah had all previously been members of the Chineke! Junior Orchestra, prior to their BGT audition.
In 2016 Sheku Kanneh-Mason made history by becoming the first black musician to win the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award, since its inceptive launch in 1978. Sheku signed a deal for worldwide general management with London-based boutique agency, Enticott Music Management in June 2016, and went on to sign a major recording contract with classical music label Decca Classics in November 2016. The record deal was signed on board a Nottingham City Transport bus which the local authority had named in his honour after Kanneh-Mason won the BBC Young Musician contest. The label announced that his first recording would feature the piece with which he won the BBC's Young Musician of the Year contest, Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No.1. In November 2016, Sheku was the subject of a BBC Four documentary entitled Young, Gifted and Classical: The Making of a Maestro. The following month, he was interviewed for BBC Radio 4's Front Row round-up of the year's major arts and entertainment award winners.
Sheku released his debut EP in February 2017 to coincide with his performance at the BAFTAs. The three tracks on the EP were recorded at the Abbey Road Studios and included 'Song of the Birds' by Pablo Caslas, in which he was accompanied by his sister Isata Kanneh-Mason, 'Abodah' by Ernest Bloch, & 'Après un rêve' by Gabriel Fauré. These tracks followed the viral success of his video of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", arranged by Tom Hodge. Sheku performed this arrangement at the BAFTAs in February 2017. Sheku has also recorded a rendition of 'Requiebros' by Gaspar Cassadó'. Sheku won the Classical category of the South Bank Sky Arts Awards' The Times Breakthrough prize in June 2017. Sheku performed at the 2017 British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) held in London's Royal Albert Hall. In the same year, he was the soloist for the Chineke! Junior Orchestra's performance at the BBC Proms, playing Antonín Dvořák's Rondo in G Major. Sheku appears as a guest artist on the album Tecchler’s Cello: from Cambridge to Rome by cellist and fellow BBC Young Musician winner Guy Johnston, released in September 2017.
In January 2018, it was reported that Kanneh-Mason had donated £3,000 to his former secondary school, enabling ten other pupils to continue their cello lessons. Additionally Sheku released his debut album, Inspiration, in January 2018, peaking at #11 in the Official Albums Chart. In February 2018, Sheku became the first artist ever to be re-invited to perform a second time at the British Academy Film Awards, playing "Evening of Roses" by Josef Hadar in an arrangement by Tom Hodge. For his second BAFTA performance, Sheku was joined on stage at the Royal Albert Hall by four of his siblings: Isata, Braimah, Konya, and Jeneba Kanneh-Mason. In May 2018 Sheku Kanneh-Mason performed under the direction of Christopher Warren-Green at The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. In June 2018 Sheku won both the Male Artist of the Year & Critics' Choice Award at the Classic BRIT Awards. On 13th September 2018 Sheku was appointed as ambassador of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation otherwise known as the JDRF. In December 2018 the Kanneh-Masons performed at the Royal Variety Performance for the first time.
In April 2019 Isata signed a recording contract with classical music label Decca Classics, much like her brother Sheku had done three years earlier. In July 2019 Isata Kanneh-Mason released her debut album entitled 'Romance: The Piano Music Of Clara Schumann' alongside Clara Schumann & the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, however it failed commercially. In December 2019 The Kanneh-Masons performed at the Royal Variety Performance for the second time.
On January 2nd 2020 Sheku Kanneh-Mason received his MBE at the age of 20. Additionally, in January 2020 he released his new album entitled Elgar, in collaboration with the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Rattle, peaking at #8 on the Official Albums Chart. In March 2020, Sheku won the public vote for Best Classical Artist at the Global Awards. Sheku was set to go on tour around several venues in Britain in 2020, prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic. On Friday 23rd October 2020 Braimah Kanneh-Mason appeared upon the second episode of the first series of CBBC's 'Mimi and Co'. On Friday 6th November 2020 the family released their debut album as a collective entitled 'Carnival of the Animals', alongside Author Michael Morpurgo & Actress Olivia Colman. On Sunday 8th November 2020 the family appeared upon 'Strictly Come Dancing' as guest performers & performed a rendition of 'Ave Maria' by Schubert, whilst Graziano Di Prima, and Nadiya Bychkova performed to the classical piece of music that they performed. On Friday 13th November 2020 Carnival debuted & peaked at #16 on the Official Albums Chart. On the same day, Sheku acted as cellist as part of the BBC Concert Orchestra as part of the backing track for the Radio 2 Allstars cover single of Oasis' single 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out', which peaked at #7 on the Official Singles Chart Top 40 on Friday 20th November 2020. On Wednesday 18th November 2020 Sheku attended the RPS Awards, wherein he performed a rendition of 'Evening of Roses' by Yosef Haddar and won the RPS Young Artist Award. On Friday 20th November 2020 the family appeared as guests on BBC's 'The One Show' wherein they performed a rendition of 'Redemption Song' by Bob Marley.
In July 2021 Isata Kanneh-Mason released her second album entitled 'Summertime', however it failed commercially. In November 2021 Isata teamed up with Sheku and the duo released an album entitled 'Muse', which was a commercial failure.
- Pianist - Isata Kanneh-Mason signs to Decca Classics
- Discogs - Isata Kanneh-Mason, Clara Schumann, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra – Romance: The Piano Music Of Clara Schumann
- CBBC - Mimi and Co, Series 1, Episode 2
- Decca Classics - Official Store
- Pianist Magazine - Siblings Isata and Sheku Kanneh-Mason's brand new album 'Muse' out now