06 November 2020
By Ellie Palmer
The family have joined up with Academy Award-winning actor Olivia Colman and children’s author Michael Morpurgo for a very special release
The much adored Kanneh-Mason siblings have released their debut album as a family.
The seven brothers and sisters – Isata, Braimah, Sheku, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu – recorded the album at London’s Abbey Road Studios. The release includes new poems written by War Horse author Morpurgo to accompany French composer Saint-Saëns’ beloved musical suite ‘Carnival of the Animals’. The poems are read by the author himself, joined by The Favourite actor Colman, and guest musicians complete the ensemble for the suite.
Along with Colman’s readings interposing the humorous suite ‘Carnival of the Animals’, which represents different animals through descriptive musical motifs, the recording features Morpurgo’s heart-warming Grandpa Christmas story, set to music for the first time with classic tracks including ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’, ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ and ‘Sea Murmurs’.
Morpurgo reads the role of Grandpa, with the youngest Kanneh-Mason, Mariatu, reading his granddaughter. The album includes a new arrangement of Eric Whitacre’s ‘The Seal Lullaby’ featuring all seven siblings, aged between 11-24. It is also the debut recording for youngest sisters Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu.
The Kanneh-Masons © Jake Turney
Also featuring on the album is the Kanneh-Masons’ own arrangement of Bob Marley’s iconic hit ‘Redemption Song’, marking 40 years since its release in 1980.
The stunning artwork for Carnival has been specially commissioned from children’s illustrator Emma Chichester Clark, who has created a colourful storybook world featuring vibrant birds, friendly kangaroos, curious elephants and all seven of the Kanneh-Mason siblings – depicted, of course, with their instruments.
The siblings comment, "This album has grown from our passion as a family for making music together. This has been a heart-breaking time for musicians and performing artists. We want to share our love of music and our passion for communication.
As young children, the power of combining music with storytelling is truly magical and we are honoured to have collaborated with Michael Morpurgo, Olivia Colman and the wonderful musicians who joined us, to create music that celebrates our connection with the natural world. Together, we want to inspire children and adults to listen more closely, to value our world and all the diversity within.”
The Kanneh-Masons Carnival, featuring Michael Morpurgo and Olivia Colman, is released on Decca Classics and can be streamed below.