28 March 1990 |
Gloucester, England, United Kingdom
Mary-Jess Leaverland (artist name: Mary-Jess) is an English singer and songwriter who won Min Xing Chang Fan Tian (or in English: I Want to Sing to the Stars), a provincial Chinese televised talent competition televised to 70 million people in December 2009.
Mary-Jess Leaverland was born on 28 March 1990 in Gloucester, England, and grew up in a musical household. Her mother Liz and her grandmother were both singers. When Leaverland was nine years old, her grandmother got her an audition with the Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir, mainly for the experience, but she was surprised to be accepted even though she was two years too young. Leaverland went on to study at the University of Sheffield and in her second year went for a year's placement in Nanjing, China, where she decided to enter a live televised singing competition.
Leaverland advanced in the Chinese Min Xing Chang Fan Tian (or in English: I Want to Sing to the Stars) competition, eventually winning the grand prize after competing live on Chinese television every night for three weeks. After winning the contest, Leaverland still remained virtually unknown in the UK. The show was not broadcast outside Jiangsu Province, China, so her family and friends could not watch it and her family could not afford to fly to China to watch her. When an interview she gave to a local Gloucester paper was picked up by the national press, the news spread, and Leaverland was offered several recording contracts and she signed a recording contract with Decca Records. She was signed to Decca from March 2010 to November 2011.
She stated in an interview with The Guardian that "I was awful at French but Chinese caught my attention with all the different tones. Each word had its own tune." The Music and Chinese Studies course at the University of Sheffield took Leaverland to Nanjing, and when she by chance came across auditions for the talent competition she wanted to get involved. "I really thought they would want a Chinese person to win. I couldn't believe it when it was me."
Her debut album Shine was released on 8 August 2011 and peaked at no. 57 on the UK Albums Chart. Before release she went on a 23 date UK tour with tenor Russell Watson as his special guest. Shine won both 'Best Newcomer' and 'Album of the Year' from classical-crossover.co.uk and has been awarded many five star reviews from fans on Amazon and the media. She was chosen to contribute to the Downton Abbey soundtrack, lending vocals to the song "Did I Make the Most of Loving You?".
Her song "Stand as One" was used as a background theme for P&G – Proud Sponsor of Mums TV advert in 2012. Leaverland was selected to sing the FA Cup Christian hymn "Abide with Me" before the 2012 FA Cup Final association football match between Chelsea and Liverpool. In 2013, she appeared at the Cheltenham Music Festival.
In 2015, Leaverland was invited to No. 10 Downing Street and was asked to serve as a representative of the British Council's GREAT Britain Campaign to represent British music worldwide.
In 2016, she conducted a short teaching tour of Suzhou, Lanzhou and Hangzhou, China with the British Council as part of The GREAT Britain Campaign. Later that year she released her second album 'Prayer to a Snowflake', a winter/Christmas album which features duets with Jaden Cornelious and Rhydian. She then embarked on a UK tour to celebrate the release.
2017 will see Mary-Jess tour with G4 as their special guest in March.
|Title||Album details||Chart positions|
|Prayer to a Snowflake||
|"Are You The Way Home?"||2011||—||Shine|
|"Heaven Is Empty"||—|
|"I Fell in Love with a Snowman"||2016||Prayer to a Snowflake|
|"The Sound of Christmas" with Rhydian||2016|
- "Mary-Jess". ClassicalCrossover.co.uk.
- "British student Mary Jess wins Chinese X-factor". BBC News. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- "British exchange student Mary-Jess Leaverland wins Chinese X Factor". The Daily Telegraph. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- Iley, Chrissy (12 June 2011). "Simon Cowell dumped me... So I went to China to win The X Factor". Daily Mail. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "Artists – Mary-Jess". Decca Records. Archived from the original on 14 March 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
- John, Emma (19 June 2010). "Mary-Jess Leaverland: What next for China's X Factor winner?". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
- "Shine: Mary-Jess". Amazon.com.
- "Gloucester's Mary-Jess hits high notes with Downton Abbey". Gloucester Citizen. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
- "Songs of Praise, God Made Man". BBC One. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "Songs of Praise, Palm Sunday". BBC One. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "Gloucester singer selected for FA Cup final". BBC News. 5 May 2012. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
- "Cheltenham Music Festival 2013 brochure". Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "Gloucester singer Mary-Jess Leaverland to promote British music as part of government campaign". Gloucester Citizen. 11 August 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "Mary-Jess Leaverland, Singer/Songwriter". British Council. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
- "Mary-Jess – Shine". ChartStats.com. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012.
- "Heaven Is Empty – Single by Mary-Jess". iTunes.