Mary-Jess first started singing when she was nine years old; she was accepted as a member of the Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir even though she was two years too young. Her Grandmother was a semi-professional classical singer and her Mother is a powerful rock, pop and country singer and so she was always encouraged by their musical example.
Growing up, Mary-Jess was a member of the National Youth Southern Girls Choir of Great Britain, loved karaoke competitions, and made the most of every opportunity to sing.
Mary-Jess began studying Chinese at the age of 13 when it was offered as an extra-curricular GCSE at St. Peters RC High School in Gloucester. At the age of 15, Mary-Jess travelled to China for the first time with the school and whilst there she sang at the opening ceremony the summer school that she was attending. Her performance was credited by a lot of local press coverage. During this trip she fell in love with China and knew that she would continue to study Mandarin Chinese.
In 2008 Mary-Jess won The Door Youth Project’s Undiscovered Youth Talent Contest. She is now a patron of the charity and visits regularly to work with the young people there.
In 2009 she flew to Nanjing, China as part of her degree in Music and Chinese Studies at the University of Sheffield. It was there that she entered 民星唱翻天 (Min Xing Chang Fan Tian) ‘I want to sing to the stars’. With her unique voice and grasp of the Chinese language, Mary-Jess took the competition by storm and the 70 million viewers took her to their hearts. Though out the show, Mary-Jess sang a huge range of repertoire, from O Mio Babbino Caro, to Stop by Sam Brown and Chinese songs like Yue Guang Ai Ren. Her performance of ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ in the live final stormed her to victory and cemented her position as a serious singer in the Chinese community.
2010 saw Mary-Jess write and record her debut album ‘Shine’ with filmic textures and a contemporary flare; she recorded the string section from The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Abbey Road and worked with some of China’s most accomplished musicians to add a touch of the orient. Seven out of the 12 songs on Shine were co-written by Mary-Jess.
In 2011, Mary-Jess embarked on a 23 date UK tour as Russell Watson’s special guest. She has since toured with Chris and Abby Eaton, performed in Trafalgar Square for Chinese New Year and sang the Downton Abbey theme tune ‘Did I Make the Most of Loving You?’ with lyrics by the legendary Don Black. The theme was included in the ‘Now that’s what I call Classical’ album, as well as on both Downton Abbey albums. Her second single ‘Glorious’ was included on the Rugby World Cup ‘World in Union’ album. She was also invited to sing Faith Hill’s ‘There You’ll Be’ on the Band of the H.M.Royal Marines album ‘Summon the Heroes’ due to her being a member of the RBL and also due to her family connections with the forces. This recording has since been included on ‘Music for Heroes – The Ultimate Military Tribute Album’.
In 2012, Mary-Jess won both the ‘Album of the Year’ award and the ‘Best Newcomer’ award from classical-crossover.co.uk. Since then, not only has she sung to royalty in Windsor Castle, but she has also sung in memory of pop royalty; she was invited to sing ‘Don’t Cry Alone’ at Robin Gibb’s house at the garden party which followed the unveiling of his National Heritage Foundation Plaque. Later that year, ‘Keep the Flame’ was released on Online Records. The song looks back on an unforgettable 2012 Jubilee year and one of the most successful Olympic Games of recent times, and it includes lyrics written specially for the occasion by Mary-Jess.
Mary-Jess is the representative of The GREAT Britain Campaign, and so she now represents the UK in 144 countries around the world. She is also a ‘Leading Light’ of the UK–China Alumni Network, an initiative set up by the British Council in China to encourage links between the UK and China.
Mary-Jess is a member of the Royal British Legion Gloucester City Branch, patron of The Door Youth Project which help troubled, disengaged young people and their families, and she is an ambassador for Half the Sky, a charity that help orphaned and abandoned children in China.