HERE’S one Sister Act you don’t want to miss.

Because after wowing crowds all over the world with her stunning vocals, Chichi Armstrong is now impressing the audiences back at home.

Born and brought up in Colchester, Chichi moved to London in her early 20s where she went on to perform with several different soul and funk bands, became a member of the world famous London Community Gospel Choir and then capped it all off singing on various tours with Seventies group Boney M.

Along the way she sang with Madonna, got chased out of Russia by the local mafia and even managed a sneaky kiss with soul legend James Brown.

I’m meeting Chichi on a rather wet winter day in a Colchester coffee shop and before we start our chat I learn we went to school together, the Gilberd up at High Woods.

“I didn’t really sing at school,” she smiles, “it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I started and then years later when I began writing my own songs.

“After school I went to the Sixth Form and then Colchester Institute to do media studies and communications, and even when I went to London it was to Guildhall to study marketing and business.”

It was her love of soul and funk that first got her started on the London music scene and after many years singing the bars, pubs and clubs of the capital she joined the London Community Gospel Choir in 2003.

“Two years later I was singing at Live 8 with Madonna,” Chichi says. “We were backing for her during Like a Prayer singing in front of an audience of half a million people in Hyde Park. Obviously it was the biggest crowd I had ever sung in front of. In fact I think it was the largest crowd Madonna had sung in front of.

“Before we went on we were all in the changing room chatting away when suddenly I turn around and she’s there at the door asking us if we’re all ok. That was really sweet of her.

“Funnily that didn’t phase me really. Now if it was Michael Jackson or James Brown, that would have been a different thing.”

Years later, Chichi got her pinch me moment when she went to a James Brown gig at the Roundhouse in London.

“I got there late,” she grins, “and so got sat next to this guy at the side. We got chatting and I found out he was James Brown’s driver. After the gig he told me to follow him and stand in a certain place outside the venue, which I did. After a few minutes he came out and I said ‘hello Mr Brown’ and he gave me a little kiss on the cheek.

“Sadly two months later he died.”

As well as Live 8, with the London Community Gospel Choir Chichi got tom play Barcelona and Ghana, where she took part in the Abolition of Slavery Celebration, an experience Chichi says was very humbling indeed.

But perhaps her most ‘interesting’ time abroad was while she was singing with Boney M in a specially arranged gig in deepest darkest Russia.

“I got the job with Boney M after seeing an advert in the paper,” she tells me. “I did quite a few tours with them, on and off for ten years, but the one I remember was when we went to Russia in 2010. We all caught this train and ten hours later we got to this town and played a gig in the local hotel. Everything was fine until later that night when we got a knock on our door to say someone was coming to get us and we needed to get out, like now. Someone hadn’t been paid and they were not very happy about it, so we all left about three in the morning. It was really weird because I remember just thinking the whole thing was funny. I suppose that was the fear kicking in.”

Just over four year ago, after the birth of her daughter, Chichi decided to come back home to bring her up, and after singing in her local church she decided to checkout the Colchester theatre scene again.

She says: “I went to the Headgate Theatre and bumped into Sara Green who I acted with in a show at the Bunting Rooms when I was 15. After chatting to her I got a part in the Passion Play, which Sara’s husband wrote, and took place at Christ Church in Colchester earlier this year.”

Now Chichi is starring in the Colchester Operatic Society’s production of Sister Act, which opens at the Mercury Theatre next month.

Based on the hit film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Sister Act the Musical tells the story of club singer Deloris Van Cartier who has to hide out in a convent when she witnesses her gangster boyfriend kill someone.

“I don’t really get excited about most things,” Chichi assures me, “but when I saw I had got the part of Deloris I was genuinely crying with happiness.

“What a part to play. I mean she’s funny, full of lots of different expressions and I just love performing with the amazing people of the Colchester Operatic Society. It’s been so much fun, I’ve never done anything like this before and I’ve never been on the Mercury Theatre stage before. I can’t wait for the show to start.”

• Sister Act Mercury Theatre, Balkerne Gate, Colchester.

January 20 to 30. 7.30pm and 2.30pm (Saturdays).

£19.75 to £12.50. 01206 573948.