Coral Amphlett voted winner of The Next Big Thing 2013

coralSinging a soulful and bluesy rendition of the 1941 standard At Last with a depth of emotion that belied her 17 years, Coral Amphlett was voted winner of the Next Big Thing 2013.

The The former Ballakermeen High School student from Onchan, whose regular voice coaching lessons have clearly paid off, came top out of the 15 finalists who performed to a packed house at the Gaiety Theatre on Saturday February 23rd.

The show came after more than 150 acts had auditioned over the past few months for a place in the final of the Next Big Thing, the talent competition open to 11 to 17-year-olds organised by Junior Achievement.

As winner Coral took away the Next Big Thing trophy and a cheque for £500, sponsored by the Steam Packet. Coral, who is working towards a career as a professional singer, explained: ‘Rather than choose material I think perhaps I ought to be singing I choose songs that really mean something to me. At Last was just that kind of song.’

Runner-up was 14-year-old Ballakermeen High School student Matthew Atherton, who took up playing the drums as a hobby some two years ago and decided to enter the Next Big Thing to gain experience. On stage at the Gaiety Theatre, Matthew not only earned valuable experience, but also a £250 prize, donated by the Manx Educational Foundation.

Third prize, £150, sponsored by Empathy Counselling Services, went to Mae Challis, 14, a singer songwriter from St Ninian’s High School, who was given her first guitar aged four and is involved in Douglas Youth Arts Centre’s music project Soundcheck.

The event’s sponsors provided the judges; Matt Fletcher, Energy FM; Dean Helm, Paragon Recruitment; and Cassie Cooper, Mannifest. Guest judge was X Factor finalist Jamie Archer who also opened the show with two numbers.

Closing the show was vocal pop group EverYoung, ahead of their concert at the Gaiety Theatre the following afternoon. After watching the 15 acts the group’s manager, Simon Hanning, said: ‘For a small island, there’s a great deal of talent here,’ and surprised one set of finalists, dance group Fire and Ice, by announcing they had been selected to be EveryYoung’s support act the next day.

Junior Achievement’s chief executive Sue Cook said: ‘The standard was tremendously high throughout the competition and it’s been a real privilege for us to witness some truly amazing young talent over the past few months. The final brought together some outstanding performers who had the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of an audience of around 800 people, all willing them on to do well.

‘We’re a small team at Junior Achievement so we’re enormously grateful for the support of so many individuals and organisations – especially our sponsors – for helping make the Next Big Thing such a success.

The final was a great fun night which, in many ways, mirrors what Junior Achievement is all about: giving young people the opportunity to become the best they can, be it on stage or in business.

‘Congratulations are due to all 15 finalists – and to all the other acts that auditioned over the past months for having the courage to stand up and perform. The curtain may have come down on the 2013 Next Big Thing, but we’re already planning the 2014 event, so keep checking out our website and Facebook page for the “Next Big News” about the Next Big Thing.’