Following a “stellar performance” (Daily Mail) of Ave Maria on the Strictly dancefloor on Sunday evening, Britain’s “insanely talented”(Guardian) siblings The Kanneh-Masons have scored a No.1 Classical Album, and landed at No. 16 in the Official UK Album Chart on Friday 13th October.
The news also sees cellist Sheku become the first ever classical instrumentalist to have their first three albums make the pop Top 20 chart, following ‘Elgar’ which debuted at No.8 in January, and 2018’s ‘Inspiration’, which peaked at No. 11 following his performance at the Royal Wedding in May 2018, watched by 3 billion people worldwide. Sheku’s first two solo albums have now re-entered the UK Classical Albums Chart Top 10. Including pianist Isata, the family now boast four Classical No.1 albums to their name.
The new album, Carnival, also features new poems from former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo and the voice of Academy-Award winning actor Olivia Colman – making her classical album debut on this record.
The Kanneh-Masons’ chart success follows a year of highs for Nottingham’s supreme seven, including a socially-distanced, sold-out show at London’s Barbican Hall in October – their first public performance together as a family. In September, their mother, Dr Kadiatu Kanneh-Mason published her memoir ‘House of Music’, sharing her life story from childhood in South Wales to matriarch of the family home in Nottingham.
At the height of England’s lockdown in the spring, the BBC’s Imagine team sent filming equipment to capture the extraordinary lives of the Kanneh-Mason family, together at home for the first time in over five years. In September, Isata made her BBC Proms debut alongside Sheku at the Royal Albert Hall, in a performance broadcast to audiences at home via Radio 3 and BBC Four.
Reflecting on the last year, Sheku says, “It’s been an amazing journey working with my brother and sisters on our first family album. We hope it inspires a new generation of young musicians to explore their own talents and the wonderful world of classical music. Making music together has, and continues to be, such an incredible privilege for us and we look forward to the prospect of performing for audiences in 2021 and beyond.”
Kadiatu adds, "Carnival means so much to us as a family. We are passionate about bringing music to people of all ages. This album is a celebration of the natural world, of love and the diversity we all share, and we had so much fun making it."
Carnival invites listeners young – and young at heart – into the colourful world of elegant swans, playful seals, lively kangaroos, inquisitive elephants, joining the Kanneh-Masons on an “exquisite” (Telegraph) musical journey.
The Kanneh-Masons’ album Carnival is out now on Decca Classics