Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 17, becomes first black winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition


MAKING HISTORY: Sheku Kanneh-Mason

A 17-YEAR-OLD student from Nottingham has become the first black winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who started playing the cello when he was just six and three years later achieved the highest marks in the UK for his Grade 8 examination, sealed his victory on Sunday (May 15) with an “electric” performance at the Barbican in London.

He described the accolade as a “wonderful feeling” and thanked his family, his teachers, his orchestra and the Junior Royal Academy of Music, where he holds a scholarship, for their support.

This year was the 38th year of the BBC Young Musician competition, and there has only been one black finalist before, recorder player Charlotte Barbour Condini in 2012.

Sheku and his siblings do not attend a private school, nor do they come from a wealthy background, like most classical music professionals, but the teenager’s parents are committed to this vision, and have raised all seven of their children with music as an integral part of their lives.

He and his brothers and sisters are not only outstanding musicians but also A-star students, and top of their school classes in a variety of other academic subjects.


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