Wales has always contributed more than its fair share of movers and shakers. With a new generation of talent emerging, here’s the top 12 up-and-coming stars of tomorrow.
1- David Brooks
The Wales football team have long been accused of being a one-man wonder (and it’s long been completely unfair), but now a new generation of talent is coming through to finally put the Bale narrative to bed. The future did not look bright when Brooks was released by Manchester City in 2014, but after some time in the lower leagues, the young midfielder returned to the top flight with Bournemouth last summer. The 22-year-old has since been a revelation, scoring seven goals in 30 appearances for the Cherries.
2- Taron Egerton
OK, so we know that really he’s up-and-come but you can’t do a hot Welsh talent list without including this rising star. Growing up in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, Egerton announced his talents as cheeky chappie Eggsy in the action-comedy Kingsman movies, and solidified his A-list status portraying Eddie the Eagle in the biopic of the same name. But it’s 2019 that’s turning stardom to super-stardom with a barnstorming, box-office-leading turn in Elton John biopic Rocketman. All that, and he’s still in his 20s.
3- Aleighcia Scott
A reggae singer-songwriter from Cardiff, Aleighcia Scott has already found success online with her debut EP Forever In Love, reaching the top ten of the UK iTunes reggae chart. Blending soul, R&B and gospel influences with her reggae roots, her powerful vocals have already won her plaudits in high places. She’s now secured a share of the coveted Launchpad Fund – a bursary scheme concocted by BBC Cymru Wales and the Arts Council of Wales – which she will use to release and market her first full album. Watch this space.
4- Alis Huws
It’s not often you get to describe a harpist as up-and-coming, but Alis Huws made headlines earlier last month by becoming Official Harpist to the Prince of Wales at the tender age of 24. The sixth person to play the Prince’s harp since he reinstated the role in 2000, the mid-Wales native won a variety of prizes during her recent degree at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. No stranger to the spotlight, she performed with Katherine Jenkins at the UEFA Champion’s League Final in Cardiff.
5- Art School Girlfriend
Raised in Wrexham, North Wales, Art School Girlfriend, aka Polly Mackey, has developed a lilting, billowing, high-production sound that fits her ethereal, introspective image. After disbanding Welsh outfit Deaf Club in 2014, she spent a few years in London and is now making music in Margate. When asked to describe her music as a Tinder bio recently, she replied: “Slow and electronic with overtones of longing and undertones of gay.”
6- Aaron Wainwright
One of the young guns spearheading Welsh rugby’s new generation, this physical, Newport-born flanker has become a stalwart for the Dragons, and a new weapon in the Welsh back row. In a parallel world, Wainwright is an international footballer – as a skinny teen he was coached by Patrick Vieira in the Wales under-16s, and harboured ambitions to play for Arsenal. Now the 21-year-old tips the scales at 17st and made his international rugby debut against Argentina last year.
7- Rabbi Matondo
If David Brooks heralds Welsh football’s new generation, Matondo heralds the one after that. At just 18 years old, he’s already playing abroad with German Bundesliga outfit Schalke 04, after youth stints with Manchester City and Cardiff City. He could have represented England or the Democratic Republic of Congo, but opted for Wales at Under-17 level. He’s made three senior appearances already, and he was born in the year 2000. Yep, you’re right to feel old.
8- Lucie Jones
From series six of the X-Factor to the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, Lucie Jones will be a familiar name to readers of the showbiz pages. Originally from the village of Pentyrch outside Cardiff, she’s played Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, Cosette in Les Miserables, and Maureen Johnson in Rent. But her star is still on the rise – now 28, in May she began an indefinite run starring in West End Show Waitress, amid massive media attention and hype.
9- Jacob Anthony
The winner of 2018’s prestigious Farmers Weekly Young Farmer of the Year award, 26-year-old Jacob Anthony is already an ambassador for the National Sheep Association, and now writes a Farmers Weekly column. A fifth-generation farmer from Bridgend, Anthony runs 1,000 breeding ewes and 300 head of cattle, and is already a powerful voice in all things sheep and cow.
10- Bethan Rees
The Welsh record-holder at three different age brackets, the now 19-year-old Bethan Rees has been supported by Welsh Athletics since she was 13, after she was talent-scouted throwing a foam javelin in a school sports hall. On the senior stage, she’s represented GB at European competitions, and recorded a creditable 51.18 PB. Having placed third at the 2017 and 2018 British Athletics Championships while still a teenager, there’s plenty more to come for this field star of tomorrow.
11- Arron Tye
After deciding to pursue cooking full-time during his GCSEs, Wrexham-born Arron Tye was already winning national competitions by the age of 23. You might have thought that being named 2018 Junior Chef of Wales would be a career highlight for chef de partie, were it not for the fact that this year, he made the final of senior competition at the first time of asking. In the ensuing four-man cook-off, he placed second, narrowly losing out to a chef a decade his senior.
12- Lloyd Macey
25-year-old Lloyd Macey’s career kicked off following his run to the semi-finals on series 14 of the X-Factor. He’s gone on to support Little Mix on the Glory Days tour and fills auditoriums up and down the UK, but his favourite venues are at home in the Rhondda. The singer often tweets entirely in Welsh and performed at the Royal Welsh Show 2019.