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Mary switches record label - with Simon's okay - for new CD

X FACTOR star Mary Byrne has ended her recording contract with Sony - with Simon Cowell's blessing.

The Ballyfermot star has been with Sony Music since landing her first record deal last year, but she revealed to the Herald that she decided to part ways with the company and join Universal, which counts Take That, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 as its clients.

"I've stuff in the pipeline at the moment. I have a new album in the works. I actually left Sony, I asked to move to Universal and Simon gave me his blessing. It's one of the biggest record companies in the world, so I'm delighted and we are working really hard on the album now," she said.

And it's expected that Mary's second album will be a hit both here and the UK, after landing the number one spot in Ireland with her debut album Mine & Yours and reaching the Top 10 in England.

And hoping to help boost Mary's sales this time round is musician Phil Coulter. The singer revealed he jumped at the chance to work with the former X Factor star on her new album. "When Universal called and asked me to work with Mary Byrne I didn't have to think twice about it. If I had got a call from a label in New York asking me to work with Lady Gaga I would have been flattered but I would have said no because that's not my cup of tea," he explained.

Mary (51) told the Herald what she thought of the latest X Factor judging panel. The singer says Gary is trying too hard to be the tough guy.

"I do love Gary Barlow but I have to say I think he's trying too much to be like Simon Cowell. When Gary is himself he is fantastic. The two girls Tulisa and Kelly are just fantastic and to top it off Louis has just slotted in there, he is like a brand new boy this year," she said.

Mary, who gave a special performance at the People Of The Year Awards, revealed that she still can't believe how much her world has changed.

"It's crazy, this time last year I was on the X Factor, I had been working on a till, and now I'm mixing with the elite of Ireland."