What a year for New Jersey! Top 10 NJ rising stars in 2016
The road to the Rio Olympics had lots of Garden State Parkway exits this summer — as just some of the talent to sprout from New Jersey in 2016! Here's a top 10 roundup of people with Jersey roots who sparked headlines this year.
1. Laurie Hernandez
How can we not start with this Middlesex County teenager turned gold medalist?! The Old Bridge gymnast went from her sensational run in the Brazil summer games to clinching a Mirrorball trophy on ABC's show, "Dancing With the Stars."
In the new year, look for Hernandez on the DWTS tour and likely on the best-seller's list (with her new book).
2. Kellyanne Conway
Regardless of political affiliation or views, there's no disputing that this Camden County native achieved a milestone, as the first female campaign manager to lead a winning Presidential campaign.
The Atco native (who has been living in Bergen County with her family) will be heading out of state in the new year, as Pres. elect Donald Trump's newly appointed counselor.
This pop singer is a Union County native, known around Jersey as Ashley Frangipane. She created lots of buzz in 2015 but really came into her own this year as the Billboard Women in Music "Rising Star" award winner.
She's also a first time Grammy nominee, for "Closer"- her collaboration with The Chainsmokers. Let's hope she can hang onto the trophy, if they win in February! :
4. Wé McDonald
Ever since her blind audition for this past season of "The Voice," this Paterson teen has been dropping jaws around the world with her powerful vocals.
Wé made it to the final four, and as I've said before- this must be just the beginning for such a talented young woman.
5. Shakur Stevenson
This hardworking Newark teen took his boxing skills to the global level when he won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. He also grabbed the attention of world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather- who says he sees greatness in Stevenson.
6. Ali Caldwell
This Middlesex County native finally got a bright spotlight for her massive vocal skills on "The Voice". Caldwell narrowly missed the Season 11's final four after some powerful performances- including the above duet with fellow NJ native, Brendan Fletcher.
Since the show wrapped, Ali has been working with her celebrity coach/mentor, Miley Cyrus, to widen her growing fan base.
7. Brendan Fletcher
This Morris County native unleashed his inner Bruce Springsteen while on “The Voice” this fall. Fletcher's version of "The River" helped get him into the top 10 and has sold well on iTunes.
Though he's transplanted across the river these days in Brooklyn, you can bet he's still got Jersey in his soul and music.
8. Gianna Isabella
Talk about a Jersey Girl making her family proud- this Jackson teen was a force on "American Idol," making the top 10 in the series final season. This was among Gianna's highlights for sure, as she belted out her mom's hit pop song!
Aside from meeting the demands of high school life, Gianna's been recording an album, and even shared some holiday tunes for the end of her biggest year, yet.
9. Sydney McLaughlin
This Middlesex County teen track standout made it to the Olympics in Rio, before getting her driver’s permit. She created a swell of hometown pride at her Union County high school, which cheered her on every step of the way.
After her massive milestone as the youngest track Olympian in 30 years, Sydney is focused on college and has signed with the University of Kentucky.
10. Tom McCarthy
Helping kick off 2016, this Union County native had a shining moment on Hollywood's biggest night. The filmmaker who grew up in New Providence became an Academy Award winner for his acclaimed film, “Spotlight.”
Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee. A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.