My understanding is this. A crossover artist is one who was originally known for their classical repertoire but has subsequently "crossed over" in the direction of some other genre, typically light pop. Would that be about right? If so, I don't understand why Mary-Jess is marketed as crossover as I am not aware that she has recorded or performed true classical. Do correct me if I am wrong. In my book, she is basically light pop. Nothing wrong with that - I love what she does. I am just perplexed by the category.
I some of her interviews, Mary-Jess described her music as "a fusion of classical and pop, with a filmic element". (Or on one occasion, a filmic elephant ). As far as I am concerned, that is justification enough for her inclusion in a classical crossover website, though I am sure Nicola could give more detail about her definition of crossover. Certainly Mary-Jess appeals to many fans of classical crossover, but I don't think she should be constrained by that label.
In her interview for the Classical Crossover website, Mary-Jess responds to a related question.
What attracted you, or drove you to the classical crossover genre (if, indeed, you would classify it as such?) I do agree that it is difficult to place Shine in a genre, however if we call it classical crossover for now, it was that fact that I couldn’t choose the direction in which I wanted to train my voice. I was classically trained for all my singing exams and that side of my voice really came from my grandmother, however I always sang pop and rock songs when I was with my mother and therefore we decided to combine the two ways of singing in to one voice. 'Glorious', for example, uses a more classical style, where as 'Lighthouse of Mine' uses a more popular style, but they are still the same voice.
Mary-Jess certainly has classical influences in her music, although I don't think Shine had enough to qualify for the Classical album chart, no doubt it would have reached No.1 if it had.
Personally I tend not to take much notice of genres, if I like something I will listen to it but I do like a lot of artists who are considered crossover, and Mary-Jess is up there with the best of them.
Ken - you are half right. The term "crossover" on its own means what you describe (except it can mean any genre). It basically means you perform in a usually unpopular, not mainstream genre, and then whatever you are doing acheives commericial success (like the Three Tenors). That's crossover.
However, there was so much of that going on for classical in the 90s, the term branched out and is now considered a genre in its own right, which is obviously called 'Classical Crossover'. This is not a literal term, but a name of a genre that naturally developed after Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli released "Time To Say Goodbye" (CC did exist before that, but that was the pinnacle moment when the genre exploded). Others have kindly linked to my articles regarding this, but that's a lot of reading. It basically means "pop music with strong classical influences".
There are people that disagree with that, and I've had some rather offended people argue against me because they don't like the fact that I describe their favourite artist as a "pop" artist rather than a "classical" one. But Classical Crossover music definitely is not classical! And I think classical musicians and opera singers would agree with me there! Again, I could go into more technical reasons as to why that is, but it's not relevant.