A SHEFFIELD University student who won China’s answer to The X Factor is hoping to repeat her success in her homeland – after signing a major UK record deal.
Mary-Jess Leaverland has been snapped up by Decca Records and signed her contract in Mandarin – the language which led her to stardom.
She signed the deal at London’s Royal Albert Hall just hours before making her debut at the venue.
The 21-year-old found herself on the road to stardom after spending a year in China as part of her University of Sheffield course in music and Mandarin.
She entered talent contest Min Xing Chang Fan Tan – I Want To Sing To The Stars – and went on to win, with an audience of around 70 million people watching her triumph.
“I really thought they would want a Chinese person to win. I couldn’t believe it when it was me,” she said.
One part of her prize was to record a track for the winners’ album – but she was unable to, as she only had a student visa.
But since her return to Britain Mary-Jess has been busy in the studio and her debut album is to be released on August 8.
Dickon Stainer, president of Decca Records, said: “What Mary-Jess achieved in China was remarkable. Now the rest of the world is set to hear her unique sound.”
Mary-Jess won just £900 for her Chinese success but her management are hoping her popularity in Asia will act as a springboard for a global career.
She is also fluent in Italian and on the show sang a variety of material including Yue Guang Ai Ren, the theme tune to the hit film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Gianni Schicchi’s O Mio Babbino Caro and Time to Say Goodbye by Sarah Brightman.
Mary-Jess, who is originally from Gloucestershire, is just finishing a UK tour supporting Russell Watson which included a slot at Sheffield City Hall in March. A debut track Glorious will be available to download soon.