Watch A Musical Family Christmas With The Kanneh-Masons on BBC Two on Christmas Day at 8.35pm. The exceptionally talented Kanneh-Masons are seven brothers and sisters – Isata, Braimah, Sheku, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu – who are taking the classical music world by storm.
The Kanneh-Masons perform their favourite festive music
A Musical Family Christmas With The Kanneh-Masons, filmed at their family home in Nottingham, is a fusion of family traditions from the UK, Sierra Leone and the Caribbean. The Kanneh-Masons perform their favourite festive music for the BBC Two Christmas show including ‘Mary’s Boy Child’, ‘We Three Kings’, ‘Santa Baby’, ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ and ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ as well as versions of Bob Marley’s ‘Who The Cap Fit’, Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ and Eric Whitacre’s ‘The Seal Lullaby’.
Christmas is a special time for the family
Christmas is a special time for the Kanneh-Masons who are often away on tour so time at home with parents Stuart and Kadiatu is rare. Their Christmas celebrations include tree decorating, the traditional Secret Santa draw, musical duets, charades and board games, cooking festive food plus impromptu performances with carol singers. Parents Kadiatu and Stuart share family Christmas videos over the years including funny ‘outtake’ moments, reveal how music has always played such an important part in their lives, and reflect on the family’s amazing year.
The Kanneh-Masons released their first family album Carnival last year which they performed at the BBC Proms this year. Carnival includes new poems written by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo to accompany Saint-Saëns’ humorous musical suite Carnival of the Animals. The poems are read by the author who is joined by Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman.
Although Carnival was the first family album released by the Kanneh-Masons, Sheku and Isata have both released their own solo albums and recently released Muse, their first album as a duo.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason rose to fame after winning BBC Young Musician 2016 and performed at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018 which was watched around the world by 2 billion people. He released his Classical BRIT award-winning debut album, Inspiration, in January 2018 which topped the Classical Album Chart and peaked at No.11 in the Official UK Album Chart. Sheku became the first cellist in chart history to land a place in the Official UK Album Chart Top 10 when his second album Elgar, which features the composer’s famous Cello Concerto, entered at No. 8 in January 2020. He was appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to music in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list.
Sheku’s sister, pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, also topped the UK Official Classical Artist chart with her debut album Romance, a portrait of the life of composer and pianist Clara Schumann, released in 2019. She released her second solo album Summertime, a diverse exploration of the musical landscape of 20th century America, in July.
Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason recently released Muse, their first album as a duo, featuring a diverse selection of music for piano and cello composed by Barber and Rachmaninov, which topped the UK Official Classical Chart and Billboard’s Traditional Classical Album Chart.
Watch A Musical Family Christmas With The Kanneh-Masons on BBC Two on Christmas Day at 8.35pm.