Jessica Mauboy is bringing the upbeat dance number “We Got Love” to Eurovision 2018. Co-written with DNA Songs — the masterminds behind “Sound of Silence” and “Don’t Come Easy” — “We Got Love” is a cheery song about staying determined in the face of adversity. It’s currently the favourite to win the second semifinal and predicted to land another safe Top 10 finish for Australia.
Jessica is one of Australia’s most successful female music artists with five Top 10 albums and ten Top 10 singles. She was also the first Aboriginal Australian to have an album debut at No. 1 in Australia, and has since been named a Game Changer by Vogue Australia. We all know about her success. But this beautiful talent led a rich and vibrant life well before stardom came knocking. Here are 10 facts you may not know about Australia’s Eurovision star.
1. She grew up in the “noisiest house on the block”
Jessica was born in Darwin, Northern Territory, to an Indonesian father and a mother from the Indigenous Kuku Yalanji people of Far North Queensland. She was the fourth of five girls, and music gave the family rhythm. With her mother often singing, and her father constantly strumming his guitar, her home came to be known as the “noisiest house on the block”. Her grandmother introduced her to the local church choir at an early age and she developed her amazing voice. A gift from God, no doubt! After her talents were fully recognised, she dropped out of school in Year 11. The girl’s all about the music, y’all!
2. She won her first music contest aged 14
In 2004, 14-year-old Jessica competed in the Telstra Road to Tamworth competition. This was part of the Tamworth Country Music Festival, which is the biggest music festival in rural Australia. Jessica went on to become the first winner of the competition, securing a recording deal with Sony Music Australia and the chance to travel to Sydney to perform. She released a country-inspired rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”. And while it didn’t necessarily signal all that would come, the single is still adorable. Jess returned to Darwin and waited for her next great adventure…
3. She was originally afraid of showing her Aboriginal background
When Jessica met with Sony CEO Denis Handlin in 2004, she was terrified that the music executives wouldn’t like the way she looked or sounded. The lack of representation of Aboriginal people in Australian media made her feel that her upbringing and race would hold her back in the music industry.
Since making a name for herself, Jessica has worked hard to turn up the volume on Aboriginal voices and has made her background known in music and TV work. After debuting as Billie Carter on the TV show The Secret Daughter, Jessica wrote “Darwin Jess” on the top of her scripts every morning.
She tells us more about her background in the interview below.
4. Her fondest memory is going crabbing with her father
Jessica learnt all about Aboriginal culture and traditions through her upbringing. She adores her native culture and the way of life, saying her fondest memory is fishing for crabs with her father. She still goes out with him in the dingy these days, saying “That is Australian, that makes us”.
In 2013, she posted photos on Instagram of her hunting magpie geese with her boyfriend, spawning angry comments from fans. However, she replied that hunting for food is a massive part of her childhood and culture, and is necessary to provide dinner for her family.
5. She fought through a sore throat on Australian Idol
The biggest boost to Jessica Mauboy’s rising game came through Australian Idol, where she placed second as a sixteen year-old. She almost didn’t make the show. However, owing to her previous work with Sony, producers refused to remove her. She reached the finals through impressive performance after impressive performance, even fighting through a sore throat on the way. That’s some steely determination!
6. She’s been in a girl group and an international film
After her success on Australian Idol, she spent a year as part of the girl group The Young Divas, which was composed entirely of Australian Idol alumni. She replaced season two star Ricki-Lee Coulter, who left to resume her solo career. The group released one album with Jessica before it disbanded and Jess released her own debut album called Been Waiting, which featured her first number one hit “Burn”.
In 2012, Jessica also starred in the musical film The Sapphires. It told the true story of a troupe of four Aboriginal women who travelled to Vietnam to sing for troops during the war in 1968. The film had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, was a big hit in Australia, and made its way to Europe, Canada and the United States. The film also gave Jess an award for Best Supporting Actress at the Australian film awards. Multi-talented.
7. She’s a really nice person
A country girl through and through, Jessica is very focused on helping both children and her rural communities. She’s a proud ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, delivering books to remote communities throughout Australia, and was the official ambassador of Yipirinya School of Alice Springs. She got Telstra to donate forty tablets to the school, complete with covers, screen protectors and locks. She’s also the face of Friends4Youth to help children suffering from cancer. No matter how busy she is, she’s still got time to be a wonderful person!
8. She appeared on Sesame Street
Staying true with her spirit of helping kids, Jess appeared in a marvelous clip for Sesame Street about counting kangaroos. The song “Five Kangaroos”, was written by Brisbane composer Ack Kinmonth and was the first Australian song to appear in the kid’s show.
The episode was thought to be watched by 120 million viewers worldwide (which isn’t as much as Eurovision).
9. She’s a massive fan of the North Queensland Cowboys
Rugby was a massive part of her childhood, and the North Queensland Cowboys is her team. She once appeared in an advertising campaign for the NRL, performing a bouncy remix of Etta James’ “Something’s Got A Hold On Me”. And on 9th March, Jessica performed at the 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville and cheered on the Cowboys as they defeated the Cronulla Sharks. She even got a shirt signed by all the members of the NRL team, calling herself a “pretty lucky duck”. Jessica, you’re pretty no matter what you’re wearing.
10. She’s been on the Eurovision stage before…
Yes, okay, we all know this one. Alexander and Waylon aren’t the only Eurovision stars coming back for more this year. Back in 2014, Jess was the star of the second semi-final interval act. Dressed in gorgeous gold, she performed her song “Sea of Flags”, written just for the contest in Copenhagen as the first step towards Australia’s involvement in the contest. SBS aired a documentary prior to the show entitled Jessica Mauboy’s Road to Eurovision. Four years later, Jessica is finally competing. She loves the contest, and is sure to bring even more energy and passion this year!
What do you think of Jessica’s entry, “We Got Love”? Will Jessica be Australia’s first winner? What do you think she’ll bring to the stage in Lisbon? Let us know below!