7 Lives of Music – The Kanneh-Mason Family

A Film by Catharina Kleber, ZDF/3sat, 60 min, 2022

They are a family with seven children, each of them an exceptionally talented musician. The Kanneh-Mason siblings, their enormous success and their incredible energy team up to prove that classical music is not exclusively for those with light skin and financial means. The documentary film “7 Lives of Music – The Kanneh-Mason Family” by Catharina Kleber will be aired on 3sat on February 5th 2022 at 8.15 PM. It will provide moving, emotional, and surprising glimpses into the private lives and the careers of this incredible family.


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It all started with Sheku: The winner of “BBC Young Musician 2016” was invited to play the cello during the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. He became world-famous overnight and pulled his siblings into the spotlight along with him. The eldest of the seven is Isata. She plays the Schleswig-Holstein-Musikfestival while her sister Jeneba debuts at the Wigmore Hall in London with her brothers, as each of the siblings makes their way through the beginnings of promising careers that will lead them to the height of their fields. Along the way, they meet some of the current greats: Simon Rattle and Christoph Eschenbach, Daniel Hope and Thomas Hampson. Every step of their path is taken together, lifting each other up and showing the younger siblings and the world: If I can do it, so can you. With this attitude, all seven play the BBC Proms and record at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.

Their parents are never far from their sides, but they aren’t the drill sergeants one has come to expect from families such as the Bachs, the Mozarts or the Jacksons. Kadie and Stuart are as surprised as anyone at their children’s talent and determination. They are able to support these qualities, without pushing them.

The film is a portrait of all of the family, with glimpses of their dreams and goals but also the barriers and worries along the way. It spotlights rehearsals in the living room, battles on the soccer pitch and glamorous concerts with equal interest. The Kanneh-Mason Family know first-hand how hard it is for people of color and from outside the inner circle to succeed in the world of classical music, but they prove beyond a doubt, that it may not remain that way.