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Jessica Mauboy

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Jessica Mauboy
Jessica Mauboy November 2014.jpg
Background information
Birth name Jessica Hilda Mauboy
Born (1989-08-04) 4 August 1989 (age 25)
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Genres R&B, pop, dance
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter, actress
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 2004–present
Labels Sony, Ministry of Sound
Associated acts Young Divas, Stan Walker

Jessica Hilda Mauboy[1] (born 4 August 1989) is an Australian R&B and pop singer, songwriter, and actress. In 2006, Mauboy was the runner-up on the fourth season of Australian Idol; she had auditioned for the talent show in Alice Springs, Northern Territory to pursue a recording career. Mauboy subsequently signed a contract with Sony Music Australia.

In February 2007, she released her debut live album, The Journey, which debuted at number four on the ARIA Albums Chart, and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association. Later that year, she briefly became a member of all-girl pop group Young Divas, before resuming her solo career early in 2008. Mauboy released her debut studio album, Been Waiting, in November 2008, which spawned her first number-one single, "Burn", as well as the top ten hits, "Running Back" and "Because". Been Waiting became the second highest-selling Australian album of 2009,[2] and was certified double platinum. Her second studio album, Get 'Em Girls (2010), included the top ten singles, "Saturday Night" and "Inescapable". Mauboy's third studio album, Beautiful, was released in 2013 and produced the top-ten singles "Pop a Bottle (Fill Me Up)", "Never Be the Same" and "Can I Get a Moment?".

Mauboy has received sixteen ARIA Music Awards nominations, of which she has won two. In April 2013, she was ranked at number 16 on Herald Sun's list of the "100 Greatest Australian Singers of All Time".[3] Aside from her music career, Mauboy has also ventured into acting. She made her acting debut in the film adaptation of the 1990 Aboriginal musical, Bran Nue Dae (2010), and starred in the critically acclaimed film, The Sapphires (2012), which earned her the AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Early life[edit]

Jessica Hilda Mauboy was born on 4 August 1989 and raised in Darwin, Northern Territory.[4] Her father, Ferdi, is an electrician of Indonesian descent who came from West Timor,[5][6] and her mother, Therese, is an Indigenous Australian.[6][7][8][9] Mauboy's mother is from the indigenous Kuku Yalanji people in the rainforest regions of Far North Queensland.[10][11][12] Mauboy has three older sisters Sandra, Jenny and Catherine, and a younger sister Sophia.[5] From an early age, she was involved in the local church choir with her grandmother Harriett.[8][13][14] Her home was described as the "noisiest house on the block", with her mother often singing, her father playing guitar and the rest of the family displaying their passion for music.[8] Mauboy attended Wulagi Primary School and Sanderson High School in Darwin.[15][16] She dropped out of school in year 11.[5]

At the age of fourteen, Mauboy's talents were exposed through the Telstra Road to Tamworth competition at the 2004 Tamworth Country Music Festival in Tamworth, New South Wales.[17] As the first winner of the competition, Mauboy travelled to Sydney to perform[8] and scored a recording deal with Sony Music Australia.[4] She then released a country-inspired rendition of the Cyndi Lauper's hit "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun".[4] A video for her version of the song had a release;[18] however, the song went nowhere and Mauboy returned to Darwin.[4]

Music career[edit]

2006: Australian Idol[edit]

Mauboy with Damien Leith at the Australian Idol grand finale.

In 2006, Mauboy auditioned for the fourth season of Australian Idol in Alice Springs, Northern Territory singing Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing".[13] Her audition impressed all three judges, and she progressed through to the semi-finals.[13] Following the semi-final process, Mauboy had advanced through to the top twelve. The media cited her previous Sony contract as grounds for dismissal, but since the contract had expired, Australian Idol producers refused to remove her from the show.[4] Throughout the series, Mauboy continued to impress the judges with her performances. In the final eleven week, following her rendition of Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away", judge Kyle Sandilands commented on Mauboy's weight, that if she wished to succeed in the music industry, she should "lose the jelly belly".[19] Mauboy appeared stunned by the comment.[19] In an interview with Who magazine's Alicia Neil, two years after the comment was made, Mauboy stated "I kind of took it as a joke ... I look back on it as a positive thing – it made me a stronger person."[20] In the final ten-week, Mauboy received the first touchdown of the season from judge Mark Holden for her rendition of Christina Aguilera's hit, "Beautiful".[1] During the final nine-week, Mauboy had a sore throat that resulted in a mediocre rendition of Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" and near-elimination, which landed her in the bottom three.[4] Following that week, she never landed in the bottom three again, and ended up progressing through to the final show with Damien Leith.[21] The grand finale was held on 27 November at the Sydney Opera House.[9] After the viewer votes had been tallied it was announced that Mauboy was runner-up to Leith.[22] In December 2006, Mauboy signed a recording contract with Sony Music Australia – two weeks after Idol ended.[23]

2007–09: The Journey, Young Divas and Been Waiting[edit]

Mauboy released her debut live album The Journey on 24 February 2007, which contained two discs.[24] Disc one contained re-recorded covers of the selected songs Mauboy performed as part of the top twelve on Australian Idol, while disc two included a DVD of her performances on the series.[24] The Journey debuted at number four on the ARIA Albums Chart and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association for shipments of 35,000 units.[25][26] In September 2007, Mauboy joined as the new member of the girl group Young Divas, replacing one of the group's original members, Ricki-Lee Coulter, who had left in June to resume her solo career.[27] Their second studio album New Attitude was released on 24 November 2007,[28] and debuted at number 10 and was certified gold.[26][29] The album was preceded by the lead single "Turn Me Loose", which peaked at number 15 on the ARIA Singles Chart.[30][29] In March 2008, Mauboy signed on to the Australian Government In2Oz program, designed to promote closer ties with Indonesia.[31] As a part of the program, she travelled to Indonesia for a three-day trip performing around the country, including an appearance on Indonesian Idol.[32] It was during this time that Mauboy had begun to work on her first solo studio album.[32] In August 2008, Mauboy announced that after a year with the Young Divas, she had decided to quit in order to concentrate on her solo career.[33] Founding member Paulini had also decided to depart, leaving Kate DeAraugo and Emily Williams as the only remaining members.[33] However, both DeAraugo and Williams resumed their solo careers, and the group officially disbanded.

A publicity shot of Mauboy in July 2009.

In late 2008, Mauboy re-located from Darwin to Sydney and prepared for the release of her debut studio album, Been Waiting.[34] The album was released on 22 November 2008; it peaked at number 11 and was certified double platinum for shipments of 140,000 units.[25][35][36] Mauboy co-wrote six of the album's songs, which were produced by Audius Mtawarira, Israel Cruz, Jonas Jeberg, Cutfather, Adam Reily, Fingaz and Kwamé.[37] The album received positive reviews from critics. Davey Boy of Sputnikmusic gave the album three out of five stars and wrote that it was an "impressive debut which suggests that there could indeed be quality music to look forward to in the future as she matures and gains experience".[38] The lead single "Running Back", featuring American rapper Flo Rida, peaked at number three and was certified double platinum.[25][39] The second single, "Burn", became Mauboy's first number-one single, and was certified platinum.[25][40] It also reached number 92 on the Japan Hot 100 and became Mauboy's first single to chart internationally.[41] The album's third single and title track peaked at number 12 and was certified gold.[25][40] The following singles, "Because" and "Up/Down", peaked at numbers nine and 11, respectively,[25] and both were certified gold.[40]

In February 2009, Mauboy signed with UK record label Ministry of Sound.[42] Been Waiting was released in Japan on 22 April 2009,[43] and reached number 138 on the Japanese Albums Chart.[44] At the 2009 Deadly Awards, Mauboy won three awards in the categories of Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year for Been Waiting, and Single Release of the Year for "Burn".[45] Along with Flo Rida, Mauboy served as a support act for Beyoncé on the Australian leg of her I Am... World Tour in September 2009.[46] At the 2009 ARIA Music Awards, Mauboy earned seven nominations for Been Waiting and its singles; she was nominated for Highest Selling Album, Best Pop Release, Breakthrough Artist Album, Best Female Artist, Breakthrough Artist Single for "Running Back", and Highest Selling Single for "Running Back" and "Burn".[47] Eventually, Mauboy won Highest Selling Single for "Running Back".[48]

2010–12: Get 'Em Girls[edit]

In January 2010, Mauboy signed to Universal Music for an exclusive worldwide long-term publishing agreement.[49] In May 2010, Mauboy collaborated with four other international artists representing their continents—Sean Kingston representing America, Jody Williams representing Africa, Tabitha Nauser (Asia), Steve Appleton (Europe), with Mauboy representing Oceania—on the theme song for the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics titled "Everyone". Mauboy, Williams, Nauser and Appleton performed "Everyone" at the opening of the Youth Olympics held in Singapore on 14 August 2010.[50] Kingston was unable to attend the performance, due to a passport mix-up.[51] Mauboy released her second studio album Get 'Em Girls on 5 November 2010; it debuted at number six and was certified gold.[25][52][53] She had travelled to the United States in February of that year to work on the album in Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta with American songwriters and producers, most of whom she had not worked with previously.[7] Mauboy co-wrote three of the album's songs.[54] Get 'Em Girls received mixed reviews from critics. Majhid Heath of ABC Online Indigenous gave the album two-and-a-half out of five stars, writing that it's a "non-cohesive mess of similar sounding, auto-tuned ravaged pop/R&B that diminishes the talent of this brilliant young songstress".[55]

Mauboy performing in 2012

The album's title track, featuring American rapper Snoop Dogg, peaked at number 19.[25][56] Mauboy performed "Get 'Em Girls" at the 2010 Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards, where she co-hosted the award ceremony with Liam Hemsworth and Jerry Trainor, and won the award for Fave Aussie Muso.[57][58] The following singles, "Saturday Night" featuring American rapper Ludacris and "What Happened to Us" featuring English singer Jay Sean, peaked at numbers seven and 14, respectively.[25] The former was certified double platinum and the latter was certified platinum.[59] At the 2010 Australian of the Year Awards, Mauboy received her first nomination for Young Australian of the Year.[60] On 10 December 2010, she performed in front of an audience of 92,000 at the Federation Square in Melbourne, ahead of Oprah Winfrey's visit to the place.[61] Mauboy's performance was shown in the first of the four Australian specials of The Oprah Winfrey Show on 18 January 2011.[62][63] In April 2011, she served as a support act for Chris Brown's Australian leg of his F.A.M.E. Tour.[64]

Get 'Em Girls was re-released as a deluxe edition on 12 August 2011, which included the singles "Inescapable" and "Galaxy" featuring Stan Walker. The former peaked at number four and was certified double platinum, while the latter peaked at number 13 and was certified platinum.[25][59][65] "Galaxy" also reached number 36 on the New Zealand Singles Chart and became Mauboy's first single to chart in New Zealand.[66] In January 2012, Mauboy and Walker embarked on their Galaxy Tour across Australia.[67] Mauboy recorded 15 songs for The Sapphires' soundtrack album, which was released on 27 July 2012.[68][69] The album debuted at number one and was certified platinum.[70][71] Mauboy released "Gotcha" as the album's lead single, which peaked at number 43 and was certified gold.[25][65] At the 2012 ARIA Music Awards, she was nominated for Best Female Artist, Best Pop Release for "Gotcha", and Song of the Year for "Galaxy".[72]

2013–present: Beautiful[edit]

Mauboy at the 2013 ARIA Music Awards.

Mauboy received two nominations at the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards for Young Australian of the Year and Northern Territory Young Australian of the Year; she won the latter award.[73][74] Mauboy's recorded version of Etta James' "Something's Got a Hold on Me" was released in February 2013 as the theme song for the 2013 NRL season,[75] and peaked at number 26.[25][76] In September 2013, she performed at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards Governors Ball in Los Angeles.[77] Mauboy's third studio album Beautiful was released on 4 October 2013; it debuted at number three and was certified platinum.[25][78][79] The lead single "To the End of the Earth" peaked at number 21 and was certified gold, while the second single "Pop a Bottle (Fill Me Up)" debuted at number two and was certified platinum.[25][80] "Pop a Bottle (Fill Me Up)" also reached number 33 in New Zealand and became Mauboy's third single to chart internationally.[66] The following singles, "Beautiful" and "Never Be the Same", peaked at numbers 46 and six, respectively.[25] The latter single was certified platinum.[81]

At the 2013 NRL Grand Final on 6 October 2013, Mauboy performed the Australian national anthem, "Livin' la Vida Loca" with Ricky Martin, and a medley of "Something's Got a Hold on Me" and "Pop a Bottle (Fill Me Up)".[82] At the 2013 ARIA Music Awards, Mauboy won Best Female Artist for "To the End of the Earth".[83] She embarked on the To the End of the Earth Tour, her first solo headlining tour, from November 2013 to January 2014.[84] The tour consisted of 27 shows and received positive reviews from critics.[85][86] To coincide with the 2014 Australia Day celebrations, Mauboy, Dami Im, Justice Crew, Nathaniel Willemse, Samantha Jade and Taylor Henderson released a cover of "I Am Australian" which peaked at number 51.[87][88] Mauboy was chosen by SBS to perform at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest, in recognition of Australia's love affair with the annual event.[89] She performed the single "Sea of Flags" during the second semi-final in Denmark, making her the first solo artist from outside Europe to perform on the contest as a guest.[89] SBS screened the documentary, Jessica Mauboy's Road to Eurovision on 10 May 2014 before their coverage of the second semi-final.[89] Mauboy's first extended play iTunes Session was released on 18 July 2014, and debuted at number 25.[25][90]

On 3 August 2014, Mauboy performed during the 2014 Commonwealth Games Flag Handover Ceremony at Hampden Park Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland to mark the official handover of the Commonwealth Games from Glasgow to the Gold Coast in 2018.[91] Beautiful was re-released as a platinum edition on 21 November 2014, which included the singles "Can I Get a Moment?" and "The Day Before I Met You".[92] The former single debuted at number five and was certified platinum.[81] Mauboy received three nominations at the 2014 ARIA Music Awards, including Album of the Year and Best Female Artist for Beautiful, and Best Video for "Never Be the Same".[93]


Music and songwriting[edit]

A 25-second sample of Jessica Mauboy's debut single "Running Back", featuring lyrics about falling in and out of love.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Mauboy's music is generally R&B and pop,[94] but she also incorporates hip hop into some of her songs.[95] Mauboy's debut album, Been Waiting, has been described as "a blend of electro beats, heartfelt pop tunes and R&B bass lines."[96] Most of the themes on the album deal with boys, love and break-ups.[96] Jarrad Bevan from The Mercury noted that the album also contains themes about everyday life, family issues, and friendship.[97] Alasdair Duncan from Rave magazine, described Mauboy's second album, Get 'Em Girls, as "a more hard-edged take on R&B and pop than her debut, pumped full of hip hop beats, jagged synths and futuristic vocal effects."[94] Mauboy said that she wanted each song on the album to talk about a "woman's needs", and that the album's theme was "very much about the empowerment of women and the domination of women."[98] In the soundtrack album for The Sapphires and in some of her singles including "Sea of Flags", Mauboy incorporates her Indigenous Australian culture into her music.[89]

Aside from her vocals work, Mauboy has also co-written some of her material. She co-wrote six songs on her first album,[37] five on her second album[99] and ten tracks on her third album.[37] Mauboy stated in an interview that while working with American producer Harvey Mason, Jr., they came up with the melodies and hooks for the songs "Fight for You" and "Here for Me" on the album Get 'Em Girls.[98] She also experimented with an operatic-type voice on her song "Scariest Part".[98] In 2010, Mauboy was nominated for Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year at the APRA Awards.[100]


Mauboy grew up listening to country singers Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton,[18] as well as rappers Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.[101] She likes to play the piano while singing songs by Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, and the Bee Gees.[6] Mauboy cites Carey and Houston as her musical inspirations,[98] and John Farnham as her biggest Australian musical influence.[102] She admires actress Deborah Mailman for the acting roles she plays, and Olympic champion Cathy Freeman whom she said "has been a big influence on my life."[103] Mauboy is a fan of Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé.[98][104] Several publications have labelled her Australia's answer to Beyoncé.[105][106] Mauboy has stated that she does not agree with the comparisons to Beyoncé, saying "I just think she's fantastic and I'm completely nowhere near where she is, but I aspire to that."[107]

Other ventures[edit]

Film career[edit]

Mauboy at the Australian premiere of The Sapphires, August 2012.

In January 2010, Mauboy had a starring role in the film adaptation of the 1990 Aboriginal musical Bran Nue Dae.[108] The film was directed by Rachel Perkins and also starred Ernie Dingo, Geoffrey Rush, Missy Higgins, and Deborah Mailman.[109] In the film, Mauboy played the role of Rosie, a local church singer who has a love interest for a school boy named Willie (played by Rocky McKenzie).[108] Her performance in the film earned her a nomination for Female Actress of the Year at the 2010 Deadly Awards.[110]

In 2012, Mauboy had a lead role in The Sapphires, a film based on the stage show of the same name. It was directed by Wayne Blair and also starred Mailman, Shari Sebbens, and Miranda Tapsell. Mauboy played the role of Julie McCrae, one of the four Indigenous Australian singers "who travel from a mission in Victoria to Vietnam to sing for American troops".[111][112] Mauboy and the cast attended the film's premiere at the 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on 20 May 2012.[111] Upon its release in the US in 2013, Mauboy appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on 18 April.[113] For her performance in The Sapphires, she won the AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and the Australian Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress.[114][115]

Television appearances[edit]

In November 2010, Mauboy made a guest appearance in the final episode of the mini-series Underbelly: Razor, and played the role of a nightclub singer named Gloria Starr.[116][117] In March 2013, she participated in a singing quiz segment for Ellen DeGeneres' two Australian shows in Sydney and Melbourne.[118][119] Mauboy became a mentor for the second series of The Voice Australia in April 2013, and paired up with coach Ricky Martin to prepare the contestants in his team for the show's battle rounds.[120] In September 2013, she made a guest appearance in the third and final season of Dance Academy as herself.[121] Mauboy appeared in an episode of Sesame Street on 20 March 2014, singing "Count the Kangaroos" in a clip which was filmed in Alice Springs.[122][123] The clip focuses on the number five and features five animated kangaroos, five boomerangs and five children from Yipirinya State Primary School.[122] In August 2014, Mauboy became a mentor for Dannii Minogue's Groups category during the home visits round of the sixth season of The X Factor Australia.[124]


In 2007, Mauboy appeared in advertisements for the shampoo product, Head & Shoulders.[125] In April 2009, Mauboy teamed up with Bloom Cosmetics to create two designer collection nail polishes,[126] which included shades of sangria red and metallic green.[126][127] In October 2010, she became the new face of the video game, Nintendogs + Cats 3DS, and joined forces with RSPCA and Nintendo to help promote the game.[128] Mauboy teamed up with clothing label KuKu in December 2010, to launch her five-dress fashion range, which were made available to buy at Myer stores across Australia.[129] In July 2011, it was revealed that she turned down an offer to become the face of an alcohol brand because she believed it would be sending the wrong message to indigenous communities struggling with alcoholism.[130] In February 2014, Mauboy had been elevated to brand ambassador status for the NRL under a long-term deal.[131] In May 2014, Mauboy was confirmed as a new health and wellness ambassador for Swisse.[132] In June 2014, Mauboy was confirmed as an ambassador for international airline Qantas along with Telstra.[133]


In April 2009, two dollars from the sale of each of the nail polish bottles Mauboy created with Bloom Cosmetics was donated to Children's Hospital Foundations Australia to support the research into childhood illness.[127] In December 2011, she performed free acoustic concerts across Australia as part of the Indian Pacific Outback Christmas train journey, an annual fund-raiser for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.[134] In March 2013, Mauboy became the ambassador of the 2013 Woolworths Earn & Learn program, which enables primary and secondary schools in Australia as well as early learning centres to earn educational resources through the school community shopping at Woolworths.[135] She appeared in two television commercials for the program, featuring students from Wulagi Primary School in Darwin.[15][136] On 24 July 2013, Mauboy was appointed as the official ambassador of Yipirinya School, a bi-lingual and bi-cultural independent Aboriginal school.[137] She has made several visits to the school since the announcement.[137] Along with being a role model to students, Mauboy will help to promote the school and assist with its fundraising.[137]



Supporting act


Year Title Role Awards and nominations
2010 Bran Nue Dae Rosie Nominated—Deadly Award for 'Female Actress of the Year'[110]
2012 The Sapphires Julie McCrae AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role[114]
Australian Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress[115]
Nominated—Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role[138]
Year Title Role Notes
2011 The Oprah Winfrey Show Herself; guest Season 25 special, Oprah's Ultimate Australian Adventure: Part 1
Underbelly: Razor Gloria Starr "Armageddon" (Episode 13)
2013 The Voice Herself; mentor Season 2, mentor working with Ricky Martin
The Ellen DeGeneres Show Herself; guest Season 10, episode 1636
Season 10 special, Ellen in Melbourne
Dance Academy Herself; guest "Start of an Era" (Season 3, episode 11)
2014 Sesame Street Herself; guest "Judy and the Beast" (Season 44, episode 19)
Jessica Mauboy's Road to Eurovision Herself SBS documentary
The X Factor Australia Herself; guest mentor Season 6, mentor working with Dannii Minogue

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]