Dorothy Bishop started her singing career in front of crowds of cheering soldiers at venues like Birmingham's Ritz Ballroom in the dark days of the Second World War.
But now more than 60 years on, she is more popular than ever, and is currently reaching an audience of millions on The X Factor, the hit ITV talent show.
The Birmingham grandmother, aged 84, impressed judges with a jazzed-up version of We'll Meet Again, the tune made famous by forces sweetheart Vera Lynn.
And she is now taking part in the singing "boot camp" section of the show, where dozens of aspiring stars go head-to-head to try to win a place on the final stages of the show.
Dorothy of Monkspath, Solihull, said: "I wanted to sing the Gershwin showtune Someone to Watch Over Me, but they persuaded me it was too long, and not terribly melodic.
"So they said to me, 'Do you know We'll Meet Again?'. I wasn't too keen, but I jazzed it up a bit." Her performance impressed the panel of judges - including Simon Cowell and Sharon Osbourne - so much they immediately voted her through to the next round.
Singer Dannii Minogue said Dorothy's voice as "beautiful" before casting her vote.
But first she had to put up with some gentle ribbing about her friendship with her fellow contestant, 67-year-old Eric Anderson, also from Birmingham.
The two met and became friends during the making of the show, and the retired builder asked her out for a meal before both were voted through to the next round.
Describing the 84-year-old as a "minx", judge Simon Cowell told Dorothy: "He would effectively be your toy boy.
"I think you should go with him, we like him and we like you."
But Dorothy stressed there were no romantic connections between her and Eric.
"Eric and I were talking, and he came to boot camp with me, and we got on like a house on fire," she said. "They tried to make it look like a romance, but it's nothing like that."
Dorothy's singing career started in the dance halls of wartime Birmingham.
"I used to be a dancer and singer during the war, at places like the Ritz Ballroom," she said. "But then I gave it all up when I got married in 1949."
Dorothy didn't sing again for more than 35 years, until she enrolled on a three-year drama course at the Birmingham Theatre School following the death of her husband John.
"I was very nervous, because for the first time I didn't have the security of being surrounded by the band, but I overcame that eventually.
"People have been saying to me 'Dorothy, you should go on The X Factor' for years now. This year I thought that at 84, why not have a go?
"It was great fun in there, and I wasn't really surprised to get through. I know I can sing, I know I've got a good voice. But my life doesn't depend on The X Factor, I'm not that desperate."