HISTORICAL events permeate everyday life and everyday phrases.

One of the stand-out phrases in 1972 was ‘Nixon goes to China’ or ‘Nixon in China’.

This seeped into the American consciousness over the years and in 1991 it emerged in the film Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, where “only Nixon could go to China” is quoted by Spock as “an old Vulcan proverb”.

The premise of the saying was ‘only Nixon’ came from a phrase: “Only a Republican, perhaps only a Nixon, could have made this break and gotten away with it.”

This breakthrough was Nixon’s visit to China where he met the leader of the People’s Republic of China, Chairman Mao Zedong, which led to a thawing in Sino-American relations.

You can now add Mary-Jess from Gloucester to this type of success by saying: “Only Mary-Jess could go to China and win the Chinese version of ‘The X Factor”.

The then 19-year-old, carried off this title in 2009 and what was impressive about this win was she could speak and sing in Mandarin Chinese.

Not only that she sang songs in English and Italian.

Taking up the tale about this historic achievement, Mary-Jess said: “When I was at school I wanted to study Spanish but was told I could not because I wasn’t good enough at French. So like a stroppy teenager I took Mandarin Chinese as soon as it was offered, thinking I’ll learn this instead then.

“I really wanted to do Spanish but the school did offer me the chance to do Mandarin Chinese.”

She carried her love of language by going to Sheffield University as it was the only place she could study Western classical music and Mandarin Chinese.

As part of the course the students spent one year at a Nanjing university.

It was while there Mary-Jess went with a friend to see her in a show she was taking part in but went off wandering and saw a talent show taking part and I knew she had to be on it as she had always wanted to be a singer.

Mary-Jess, who now lives in Bishop’s Hull, said: “I found the producer and had to an audition there and then on the spot. And the rest is history.”

Following that momentous win, this soprano was awarded a record contract from Decca when standing at a bus stop with her mum.

This success in China was the springboard to releasing 14 albums, being chosen to sing the Downton Abbey theme tune and Mary-Jess has toured with Russell Watson and G4 as their special guest soprano.

After singing at The GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, Mary-Jess was invited to Number 10 Downing Street where she was asked to become the next representative of The GREAT Britain Campaign, and so she now represents UK music in 144 countries around the world.

She is also a ‘Leading Light’ of the Generation UK China Network, an initiative set up by the British Council in China to encourage links between the UK and China.

Mary-Jess has also performed at the FA Cup Final in Wembley Stadium singing ‘Abide With Me’ in front of a live audience of 90,000 people.

One of the songs which Mary-Jess aims to record is what you can say is the song which made her famous.

She said: “This is the song I sung for my audition in China and it is the song which changed my life

“It was the song I sung when watched by 70 million people on Chinese television and I have still not recorded it.

“The song is ‘It’s Time to Say Goodbye’ (originally released by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman).

“This is such a special song to me.”

You will be able to hear 28-year-old Mary-Jess singing when she and Joanna Forest (she is the first independent artist to achieve UK Classical Number 1 with their début album) sing in Taunton.

They will be joined by their special guest choir from Castle School for a magical festive evening singing all your favourites from stage and screen along with timeless winter classics to really get you into the Christmas spirit.

Christmas at the Musicals is at the CICCIC, Memorial Hall, Paul Street, Taunton at 7.30pm on December 18.

VIP tickets are available on a first come first served basis and include a pre-show Meet & Greet with Mary-Jess and Joanna Forest at 6.30pm, light refreshments during the Meet & Greet and the front two rows of seating for the concert will be reserved exclusively for VIP ticket holders too.

Further details online at creativeinnovationcentre.co.uk or at events.ticketbooth.eu/event/christmas-at-the-musicals-taunton