Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason on how he spends his Saturday playing football and having rap battles

The cellist, 21, on rehearsing with his six siblings and performing at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding

Sheku Kanneh-Mason has been having Zoom cello lessons during lockdown Credit: Getty Images


I’m not an early riser if I can avoid it. I leave the curtains open because it’s nicer to wake up with the daylight than the beep of an alarm clock.


Breakfast is porridge with fruit, if we have any – there’s generally not much in my kitchen. I live in a flat in West Hampstead with my older brother Braimah, 22, a violinist, and my friend Plinio [Fernandes], a classical guitarist. We all play at the same time, which our neighbours probably don’t love.

Breakfast porridge topped with fruit is a go-to for Sheku Credit:  Getty Images


I’m in my fourth year at the Royal Academy of Music and practise every day for about four hours. Since September I’ve been doing a few concerts with distanced audiences, and some online, but it’s a worrying time for musicians and orchestras.


For lunch I make rice, chicken and vegetables. I get that post-lunch, sleepy feeling, so I walk to Hampstead Heath – at the moment I’m listening to a lot of Tupac and Biggie Smalls because I’m having a rap battle with my brother and a friend: we send tracks of ourselves insulting each other.


During lockdown, I had my cello lessons over Zoom and moved back to my parents’ house in Nottingham. I’ve got five sisters and one brother and it’s chaos when we’re all at home, but it gave us more time to rehearse our first album as a family. When we were children, we loved Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and we wanted to create an album that would have that effect, so we recorded Carnival of the Animals, with the poems read by Olivia Colman and Michael Morpurgo.

The Kanneh Mason family Credit: @shekukannehmason/ Instagram


I play football most evenings. One of the coolest things about performing at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding was playing in front of David Beckham, who was one of the guests.

Sheku performed at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding Credit: Getty Images


Dinner often involves fried plantain; I love it and it goes with anything.


I watch a lot of Netflix. I’ve just finished The Last Dance, a really inspiring documentary about Michael Jordan.

The Last Dance documentary inspired Sheku Credit: Getty


I play cards with Braimah and Plinio before heading to bed around midnight. I miss going out dancing and watching live jazz. It’s important to have fun as well as focusing on your playing.

My must-have app is…

'I’ve been listening to the Spanish cellist Pablo Casals' Credit: Getty Images

Spotify. Recently I’ve been listening to the Spanish cellist Pablo Casals playing a Schumann piano trio with Yehudi Menuhin. It’s extremely tender.

My favourite purchase is…

Paul Smith shirt Credit: Paul Smith

A very cool Paul Smith shirt. I wear a lot of his stuff because it’s comfortable to play in. He’s also from Nottingham and has been really supportive of me over the past few years.

The item I couldn’t live without is…

Sheku's most treasured item is his 410-year-old Amati cello Credit: Getty Images

My 410-year-old Amati cello. I have it on permanent loan. It’s a very special and valuable instrument and I try not to think about what would happen if I lost it.

The Kanneh-Masons’ album Carnival of the Animals, featuring Michael Morpurgo and Olivia Colman, is released on Decca Classics on 6 November