Who is Jessica Mauboy?
Jessica Mauboy is an Australian R&B and pop singer, songwriter, and actress who rose to fame after finishing 2nd in the fourth season of the music competition, ‘Australian Idol’, which also resulted in a recording deal with Sony Music Australia. One of the most successful female artists in Australia, she is considered a role model to young girls and indigenous communities in the country. She began her music career with the release of a live album of her performances on the competition, and then joined the girl band Young Divas and worked on their second album ‘New Attitude’. She started her solo career one year later, and has so far released three studio albums – ‘Been Waiting’, ‘Get 'Em Girls’, and ‘Beautiful’. She has made countless appearances on TV shows, acted in the musical comedy-drama films 'Bran Nue Dae' and 'The Sapphires', and played the lead in the television series 'The Secret Daughter'. She has also recorded the soundtrack albums for 'The Sapphires' and 'The Secret Daughter'. She has won numerous awards for her musical performances, as well as acting.
Childhood & Early Life
Jessica Hilda Mauboy was born on August 4, 1989 in Darwin, Northern Territory to Ferdy and Therese. Her father, an electrician, came from West Timor island, Indonesia, while her mother is from the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people in the rainforest regions of Far North Queensland, Australia.
She is the fourth child of her parents and has three older sisters – Sandra, Jenny and Catherine – and one younger sister Sophia. She attended Wulagi Primary School and Sanderson High School in Darwin, but dropped out of school when she was only eleven years old.
She was raised in a musical household, which has been described as the "noisiest house on the block"; the whole family was passionate about music, with her mother often singing and her father playing guitar. She herself sang in the local church choir with her grandmother Harriett since she was very young.
At the age of 14, she participated in the Telstra ‘Road to Tamworth’ competition at the 2004 Tamworth Country Music Festival in Tamworth, New South Wales and won the first iteration of the competition. Winning the grand prize of a single-recording contract with Sony Music Australia, she released a country-inspired rendition of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ by Cyndi Lauper, but lacking further opportunities, returned from Sydney to Darwin.
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In 2006, Jessica Mauboy’s rendition of Whitney Houston's ‘I Have Nothing’ at the audition for season four of ‘Australian Idol’ impressed all three judges, following which she passed the semi-finals to reach the top twelve. Despite once suffering from a sore throat, which almost eliminated her, she reached the finals giving impressive performances consistently, but finished the competition as runner-up to Damien Leith.
In December 2006, two weeks after ‘Australian Idol’ ended, she again signed a record deal with Sony Music Australia and debuted into the music industry with the live album ‘The Journey’ on February 24, 2007. The album contained one disc of re-recorded covers of some of the songs she sang on the competition and another disc of her performances on the series.
As part of the girl group Young Divas, which she joined in September 2007, she recorded the album ‘New Attitude’ which was released on November 24 and received gold certification from Australian Recording Industry Association. The next year she was selected for the Australian Government program ‘In2Oz’ to promote closer ties with Indonesia, and subsequently made an appearance on ‘Indonesian Idol’.
She left Young Divas in August 2008 to focus on solo career, and on November 22, 2008, she released her debut studio album ‘Been Waiting’ which peaked at number 11 and was certified double platinum.
She signed a deal with the UK record label Ministry of Sound in February 2009 and in September, did a support act for Beyoncé on the Australian leg of her ‘I Am... World Tour’.
In January 2010, Jessica Mauboy debuted as an actor in ‘Bran Nue Dae’, the film adaptation of the 1990 Aboriginal musical of the same name, playing Rosie, a church singer and the protagonist's love-interest. That year, she also made guest appearance as a night club singer in the TV mini-series ‘Underbelly: Razor’.
In May 2010, she was one of the five international artists selected to sing the theme song for the Summer Youth Olympics ‘Everyone’, which she also performed at the opening of the Youth Olympics. On November 5 that year, she released her second studio album, ‘Get 'Em Girls’, which peaked at No.6 on ARIA charts and was certified platinum.
She played the lead in the 2012 film ‘The Sapphires’, based on the stage show of the same name, and also recorded 15 songs for the soundtrack of the film. The album peaked at the top of the Australian chart and received double platinum certification.
Her third studio album, ‘Beautiful’, was released on October 4, 2013 and debuted at No.3, earning a platinum certification. Her first extended play, ‘iTunes Session’, was released on July 18, 2014.
In 2016, she bagged the lead role of part-time country pub singer, Billie Carter, in the television drama series ‘The Secret Daughter’. She recorded two individual soundtrack albums, ‘The Secret Daughter: Songs from the Original TV Series’ and ‘The Secret Daughter Season Two: Songs from the Original 7 Series’, both of which were certified platinum by ARIA.
All three of Jessica Mauboy’s studio albums, as well as her three soundtrack albums from her film and television series, got platinum certification from ARIA. ‘The Secret Daughter: Songs from the Original TV Series’ has been her first album to debut on the top of the ‘ARIA Albums Chart’.
Awards & Achievements
Since securing the runner-up spot in the fourth installment of ‘Australian Idol’, Jessica Mauboy has won an ‘APRA Award’, ‘Australian of the Year Award’, ‘MTV Australia Award’, two ‘ARIA Music Awards’ and numerous ‘Deadly Awards’. For her acting in the film ‘The Sapphires’, she has won an ‘AACTA Award’ and an ‘AFCA Award’.
Personal Life & Legacy
In January 2009, Jessica Mauboy became involved in a long-distance relationship with Themeli "Magoo" Magripilis, a soccer player and council worker of Greek descent. Born and raised in Darwin, he played for the soccer league's club Hellenic Athletic, which Mauboy's younger sister Sophie also played for.
(Mauboy, who has been living in Sidney since late 2008, doesn’t get to meet her boyfriend very often, who still lives in Darwin. However, whenever she is not working, she visits Darwin to spend time with her family and her boyfriend.
She is also a philanthropist who supports various charities in Australia and as an ambassador for the Sony Foundation, has participated in many fundraising events for youth-related causes. She became a spokesperson for the Indigenous Literacy Project (ILP) in 2009 and an ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation in 2015.
While her stint on ‘Australian Idol’ established Jessica Mauboy as a singer, her eligibility on the competition was questioned in the media due to her previous single-recording contract with Sony. She was also body-shamed on-stage by judge Kyle Sandilands, who had commented that she needed to "lose the jelly belly" to succeed in the music industry.