Next Brit Thing winners announced

Following a six month nationwide search for the best in young UK musical talent, last night three unsigned artists were crowned winners of Next BRIT Thing - a national music competition for 11-19 year olds backed by the UK music industry, The BRIT Awards and the Government.

Operatic tenor Noah Stewart and Laura Wright judged the competition alongside managing director of Columbia Records Mike Smith and pop band McFly who chose winners in three different categories - classical, songwriting and general.

Winning the classical category was 16-year old classical piano player Sarah Gardner from Stockton-on-Tees near Middlesborough. As part of the prize she will get to perform at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Classic FM Live in the Autumn.

Laura Wright congratulated Sarah, “Sarah stood out to me as the classical winner immediately.  She played with such confidence and composure for someone so young, and her performance of the Ravel was truly breathtaking. I wish her and all the rest of the finalists the best of luck with their futures; it was a joy to be part of The Next Brit Thing!"

Elsewhere 19-year old Northern Irish singer-songwriter Paul Shevlin won the General Category, while South London, female-fronted rock band Floodliners walked away with the prize for the Songwriting Category.

Over 2,500 entries to the Next BRIT Thing made by young musicians from across the UK were put to public vote over Christmas last year.