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23 For 23: Isle Of Wight Talent For Your Radar This Year

Our annual celebration of Island talent sees Isle of Wight Radio's Dom Kureen look at 23 of the brightest local sparks and what we can look forward to from them this year.

Zac Lacey — World Champion Swimmer

The Isle of Wight's Zac Lacey won a gold medal and four silvers for Team GB at the recent World Down Syndrome Swimming Championships.

Zac competed at the October event in Albufeira, Portugal, after qualifying for Team GB along with 29 others, taking on seven individual events and three relay events over the week.

The 22-year-old lives in Ryde and attends HTP College in Newport, where he is studying to become a fitness instructor.

 

Meg Rasmussen — Under the radar musician

Credit: Darren Hudson Portraits.
Credit: Darren Hudson Portraits.

The supremely gifted 20-year-old Bath University student is one of many local musicians to have studied at Newport's Platform One music college.

With a mighty voice emanating from a deceptively diminutive frame, Meg is aiming to increase her online presence in 2023.

She has already featured at both Warrior Fest and the Isle of Wight Festival so far during her budding career.

 

Adam Hose — Brilliant batsman


Top-order batsman who hails from the Isle of Wight and represents Warwickshire CCC at County level.

The 30-year-old T20 specialist has been touted for a place among England's white ball setup after impressing for the past two seasons, both domestically and in Australia's Big Bash.

 

Billy Nomates — Adopted Islander and punk queen


Post-punk singer/songwriter Billy Nomates covered a range of societal issues in her lyrics during a breathless Ventnor Fringe performance in 2021.

It came after the native of Leicester settled on the Island during lockdown (so she counts as a Caulkhead now!), much to the excitement of local music buffs over here.

A 2023 European tour including dates in France, Spain and Italy, will arrive hot on the heels of her second album - CACTI - which is set for release on January 13.

 

Nina Plapp — Globetrotting cellist

Improvisational cellist and composer who has performed with major international artists including Rox, Fatboy Slim, Alison David (Red Snapper) and The Charlatans.

A seasoned traveller, Nina has worked with artists across the globe, from Cantopop stars and Irish folk bands in China to flamenco gypsies in Spain.

The Ryde resident was the 2016 winner of the prestigious BBC/RGS dream journey award - setting off with her cello 'Cuthbert' en route to India via Transylvania in a search for the roots of gypsy music.

 

Carla Ward — Aston Villa coach

Born on the Isle of Wight, Ward grew up on a council estate in Torquay where she learned to play football in the street.

An impressive playing career included stints with Leeds United, Sheffield United and Sporting Plaza de Argel in Spain.

Has excelled as a manager in the women's game since retiring as a player in 2017, taking the reins at current club - Aston Villa - in May 2021.

 

Rhian Teasdale — Soggy-limbed songstress


The driving force behind Wet Leg's success, classically trained Rhian seems to relish the spotlight.

Formerly performing as RHAIN and collaborating with the likes of Plastic Mermaids, the past 18 months have seen her become a global superstar.

The outcome of Wet Leg's incredible four GRAMMY nominations will be disclosed on February 5.

 

Ivana Popov — The Island's premier poet?

Born in the Bahamas to French and English parents, Ivana somehow navigated a path to the Isle of Wight, before hitch-hiking across the globe by boat.

She didn’t stay away for long thankfully, and upon her return quickly became notorious for her amusing, offbeat poems and quirky ukulele ditties, including an album of animal related tracks she occasionally dusts off at PETA meetings.

Now living in Bristol, Ivana continues to pen new material, with an inaugural poetry publication touted for 2023.

 

Lauran Hibberd — Garageband Superstar


One of a crop of exciting up-and-coming female Isle of Wight musicians.

Debut album Garageband Superstar reached number 37 in the UK charts upon its release in August (read our review here).

In the process, the 25-year-old completed her transition from folk singing chanteuse to rebellious slack-pop songstress.

 

Josh White — The Island's Slim Shady

Did you realise that Eminem was on the Isle of Wight Festival line-up last year?

Admittedly, the Detroit born rapper wasn't there in person, but The Real Slim Shady — AKA 18-year-old Islander Josh White — had the Platform One stage bouncing on festival Saturday with his tribute to the hip-hop icon.

This year he's aiming to release a flurry of original material, with live performance lined up at several local venues.

 

Dan Butler — Peterborough United full-back


Dan Butler during his Pompey days. Credit: Sky Sports.

Championship left-back who has been a pivotal cog in Peterborough's 2022-23 season.

Brought up in Cowes, the 28-year-old has worked his way into the second tier since his debut for Portsmouth in League One more than a decade ago.

Dan is now approaching 400 appearances in the professional game.

 

Plastic Mermaids — Avant-garde music maestros

2022 wasn't a bad year for the delightfully quirky quintet, as they made their Glastonbury Festival debut, released a critically acclaimed LP (read our review here) and were named among Atwood Magazine's albums of the year.

The October release of said LP — ' It's Not Comfortable To Grow' — felt like a seminal moment in the group's development, after more than ten years of paying dues.

A likely to be sold-out UK tour commences later this month.
 

Steph Wyatt — Versatile Vlogger


A burgeoning YouTube star with more than 22,000 subscribers, Steph is starting to get recognised, and not only on the Isle of Wight:

"A couple of people recognised me in Florida and there have been a handful of other times in the UK where they've come by and said hello," she says "I always love interacting with them and hearing their thoughts."

Self Love With Stephy is a candid channel which follows a 20-something's experiences and challenges as she navigates her way through life, both on and off the Island. 

 

Beth Brookfield — Isle of Wight Main Stage musician


Teenage musician who made her Isle of Wight Festival Main Stage debut in 2022 after winning the annual Wight Noize competition — the first female solo artist to do so.

November single release “On the Way to Paris” further cemented the legacy of a prolific year, sonically capturing the romanticism of the French capital.

Beth has the requisite talent, tenacity and temperament to ensure her upward career trajectory continues this year.

 

Matthew Jeffery — Brightbulb Design CEO

Having started his career at Newport's design and manufacturing company AJ Wells, Matt took the bold step of founding his own enterprise in 2014.

Brightbulb Design has gone from strength-to-strength since it emerged as a two-person operation run from Matt and wife Fiona's home in Ryde - now boasting a ten-strong team.

The multi-award winning creative lab and its ever-expanding workforce has been confirmed among the first businesses to move into the new Branstone Farm development in 2023.  

 

Coach Party — Indy music darlings

A flourishing foursome rich in satire, Coach Party's increasing popularity saw them perform in front of a 97,000-strong crowd at Stade de France earlier this year.

An expanding fanbase has seen them on the bills at several other major summer events, including Victorious and the Isle of Wight Festival.

Members of the band are also the entrepreneurial brains behind Newport's vegan kitchen, Peach.

 

Will Trend — Meditation teacher



The Isle of Wight's pre-eminent meditation teacher, Will shares the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) with people across the Island.

Engaging quarterly talks and events can be attended for free at Brading's Roman Villa, while Will also teaches on the other side of the Solent.

"The Isle of Wight could well be the nucleus that triggers National Coherence," Will commented, "this means life in tune with Natural Law."

 

JoJo and the Teeth — Rocking in the free world


Pulsating fivesome counting three Islanders among their ranks and one of the industry's most exciting young frontwomen, JoJo O'Donoghue. 

Debut LP, No More Good News, received glowing reviews upon its release in December.

Their profile continues to grow across not only the UK but throughout Europe and in North America.

 

Hayley Morris — TikTok Topliner

A social media sensation with thousands of fans and millions of likes on her hilarious videos, at the time of writing Hayley has around six million followers across TikTok and Instagram.

The 29-year-old, who attended Ryde High School, started her social media channel two years ago after finding herself bored during lockdown.

Going viral, the St Helens resident told IW Radio:

"People recognise me in the street, which completely blows my mind. I still think to myself, 'how do you know me?'"

 

Grade 2 — Punk purists


Punk rockers from Ryde known for their frenetic live shows.

November single release "Under the Streetlight" proved popular across Europe, where Grade 2 have a huge following.

The single will be included on their new album - to be released by Hellcat Records in early 2023.

 

Keegan Brown — Darts dynamo

Brown began playing darts at the age of nine and was playing in men's county league games for the Isle of Wight at the age of 13.

He has since gone on to become one of the best players in the world.

The 30-year-old, who resides in Newport, also works as a medical lab assistant in blood services on the Island.

 

Louis Checkley — Jazz musician

An award-winning vocalist from Wroxall, Louis has carved out a niche for himself within the Brighton jazz scene.

Shows are punctuated by charming charisma and a piquant twist of soul.

Signing with Austria's Wohnzimmer Records in 2021, Louis' debut album will be released this year following a successful Crowdfunding campaign.

 

Bear Grylls OBE — Best selling author and world-renowned adventurer

Known across the world for his television shows, books and general adventuring, Bear Grylls will this year be headlining a number of events.

This includes cruise liner Cunard's 2023 season in Alaska.

The special 12-night sailing will mark the first time Bear has appeared as a special guest on a cruise ship and will be his first return to Alaska since his memorable visit with former President Barack Obama in 2015.

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