A BASINGSTOKE blues and soul singer has bagged a place in the final of a major music competition.

Buster Cornelius wowed the crowd and judging panel at the Open Mic UK South of England area final to win a place in the grand final at the O2 in London.

Buster, 46, impressed a live audience at Portsmouth Guildhall Hall with a performance that featured some of his own music and the Wilson Pickett classic, Mustang Sally.

He said: “To come as far as I have in the competition is amazing, especially when I think of the standard of some of the competitors I've been up against.

“To play at the O2 will be something to cherish forever. If anything else comes from it that will be a huge bonus. Having said that, I'll be giving it my all to try to win the competition – I'm already looking at possible ways to improve the act further for the final."

Buster, from Chineham, has beaten off stiff competition to book his place in the final, which will take place on January 19.

The contest, now in its fifth year, seeks to discover the best unsigned musical talent across the country.

Previous contestants include this year’s X-Factor runner-up Jahmene Douglas and previous winner Birdy has gone on to achieve number one records across Europe.

The winner of the grand final will take home £5,000 to be spent on their development, and there are more cash prizes up for grabs for all category winners in the final.

The judging panel at the O2 final will include Radio 1 DJs Annie Nightingale and Ras Kwame, Ivor Novello award-winning songwriter and producer Mark Hill, Charlie Hedges, from Kiss FM, and senior music industry executives.