Sheku Kanneh-Mason Celebrates His Inspirations On New Album ‘Song’

Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s new album ‘Song’ celebrates his musical identity and inspirations from Bach to Bacharach and beyond.

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Sheku Kanneh-Mason photo
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Photo: Decca Classics/Yoke Creative

“Fabulously gifted” (The Times) cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason will release his new solo album Song, celebrating his musical identity and inspirations, on 9 September 2022. Song features an eclectic mix of music including folk tunes, classical works by Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Stravinsky, jazz melodies and pop songs, spanning from Bach to Bacharach and beyond. At the heart of the album is a celebration of song – and, more specifically, the singing quality of the cello. Sheku explained, “The cello has such a versatile voice and lends itself so beautifully to creating melodies, almost as if it’s singing.”

Features music spanning from Bach to Bacharach and beyond

Sheku Kanneh-Mason has included some of his own arrangements including of Aretha Franklin’s ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ (written by Burt Bacharach) for solo pizzicato cello, Bach arrangements for multiple cellos, and the folk tune ‘Myfanwy’, his Welsh grandmother’s favourite song. Sheku said, “This is one of my absolute favourite melodies, and one that I’ve known for as long as I can remember. I spent a lot of my childhood in Wales with my family and particularly my Welsh Grandma, so this is for her.”

Sheku Kanneh-Mason - Myfanwy

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As well as performing solo Sheku is also joined by family and friends for many of the pieces on his new album Song. He improvises with jazz pianist Harry Baker on ‘Cry Me A River’, collaborates with singer-songwriter Zak Abel on their original song, ‘Same Boat’ and joins the South African soprano Pumeza Matshikiza on Massenet’s ‘Élégie’.

The album also includes the world premiere on a new work (commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music, where Sheku studied) from British composer, Edmund Finnis, who wrote the ‘Five Preludes’ especially for Sheku, and a movement from Messiaen’s moving ‘Quartet for the End of Time’.

“I wanted to show who I am as a musician right now”

“I wanted to show who I am as a musician right now,” said Sheku Kanneh-Mason. “In doing so, I was able to showcase different styles and approaches to music.”

Laura Monks and Tom Lewis, Co-Presidents of Decca Label Group, said, “We are very proud as a label to have witnessed the growth of Sheku as an artist and human being. This album is incredibly beautiful and truly does represent artistic excellence.”

Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s new album Song follows his two previous Classical No.1 solo albums, Inspiration (2018) and Elgar (2020), with the latter reaching No.8 in the Official UK Album Chart, making him the first cellist in the history of the UK Charts to break into the Top 10.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason will be performing at a free open-air concert in Trafalgar Square, London, with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle on Saturday 11 June which will be live streamed on YouTube. He will also be featured at the Last Night of the Proms, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, on 10 September 2022.

About Sheku Kanneh-Mason

Sheku Kanneh-Mason won the BBC Young Musician competition in 2016, at the age of 17, and in 2018, at the age of 19, he performed at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle which was watched by 3 billion people around the world. Since the release of his last record-breaking solo album Elgar, Sheku Kanneh-Mason has been awarded an MBE at Buckingham Palace for services to music, featured in two BBC documentaries about the Kanneh-Mason family and released two albums with his siblings (Carnival, with all six siblings, and Muse with sister Isata Kanneh-Mason, who is also featured on his new album Song). He has been named one of TIME Magazine’s Next Generation Leaders, evidence of his ability to cross musical boundaries and draw new audiences into the world of classical music which he does with his new album Song.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s new album Song will be released on 9 September 2022 and can be pre-ordered here.

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