Sheku Kanneh-Mason’s performance at last weekend’s Royal Wedding was nothing short of capitivating – so much so it’s taken him to the top of iTunes in the United States. On May 19, 2018, he played Sicilienne by Maria Theresia von Paradis and Apres Un Reve, by Gabriel Faure, before finishing on Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria for Prince Harry and Duchess of Sussex Megan Markle and their guests.
“Just over a year ago I was performing at a charity event at which Prince Harry was present,” Sheku-Mason said, calling from London. “That was the first time he heard me. I spent some time with him very briefly [at the event]. … Then a few months ago I received a call from Meghan Markle asking me to play at the wedding. I was just honored by it.”
“The atmosphere was amazing and I’m proud to have played a small part in the celebrations,” Mason tweeted out on May 20, a day after the career milestone. “It’s a day I will remember for the rest of my life.” It’s been reported, by friends in attendance, that Meghan’s mother, Doria Ragland, began to tear up during the performance.
“The first two pieces, I’ve played for a while, and I suggested them because I thought they would work pretty well together,” he said. “The Faure [piece] I play a lot, so I knew it very well. The first piece [Sicilienne in E Flat Major], I listen to it a lot and have played it before,” Kanneh-Mason continued.
The final piece he performed, Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” was a special request. “[‘Ave Maria’] was a request from the couple,” Kanneh-Mason said. “They really love it. … I know it very well from having heard it lots of times but have not really played it [much] before.”
“It was such an awesome moment – just really incredible to perform for Prince Harry and Meghan at their wedding! The atmosphere was amazing and I’m proud to have played a small part in the celebrations. It’s a day I will remember for the rest of my life” pic.twitter.com/kKaMrs7cTS
— Sheku Kanneh-Mason (@ShekuKM) May 20, 2018
The 19-year-old Mapperley musician has already been enjoying success in the UK but his debt album, Inspiration, has soared to currently sit at fourth place in the US albums chart. In 2016, Kanneh-Mason became the first black musician to win BBC’s Young Musician of the Year Award. “The main reason I love playing is I grew up with music all around the house,” he said. “I would listen to my older siblings when they practiced. My parents always played music around the house.”
He may not have been a household name outside the UK before the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but now the world can’t seem to get enough of British cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Nearly a Billion People world-wide know who he is now.