Jessica Mauboy performs at Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Thursday November 14. Book through www.ticketek.com.au or venue box office.
WHEN Jessica Mauboy arrived in Los Angeles to start work on her forthcoming album’s first single To The End of The Earth, she couldn’t stop her mind wandering more than 12,000 kilometres away to Darwin.
‘‘I walked in the studio and my first thought was ‘I’m missing home’,’’ she says.
‘‘I’d been on the road for months and months and I was just ready to go home and that was my first thought, so I suggested I’d love to write about my home town and my relationship with Darwin, what it’s given to me and how the journey I’ve had always takes me home.
‘‘I had to hop on to Google for a bit and show them [LA songwriters Jaden Michaels, Ben Berger and Ryan McMahon and producers Captain Cuts] my home town and they were really impressed, not so much with the weather but in terms of our backyard, the colours and the culture.’’
Mauboy’s evolution from Top End teenager to award- winning singer and actress began with her audition for the fourth season of Australian Idol in 2006, when she sang Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing.
She signed a recording contract with Sony Music Australia just two weeks after she was announced as runner-up to the winner, Damien Leith, and soon released her debut live album, The Journey, which debuted at No.4 on the ARIA albums chart.
Mauboy later joined girl group Young Divas, but left after a year to start work on her debut studio album Been Waiting, which included her first No.1 single Burn.
The song earned her the Single Release of the Year at the 2009 Deadly Awards, where she also picked up awards for Female Artist of the Year and Album of the Year.
Another single from the album Running Back later earned Mauboy an ARIA Award in the same year for highest-selling single.
‘‘I knew [when I competed on Australian Idol] of the industry and how much work there was going to be involved and I thought back then that it was going to make me a bitter person, bitter and quite to myself and shutting everything out, but I’m the complete opposite,’’ she says.
‘‘I have a really great family which has kind of kept me sane and zen and I think without them I think I’d be a bitch and quite selfish.
‘‘There are moments when I go home and my mum would ask me a question in terms of my personality change and say ‘Are you all right? You’re a little bit different to the Jess we know’.’’
Mauboy’s second studio album, the 2010 release
Get ‘Em Girls, included collaborations with
American rappers Snoop Dogg and Ludacris and English singer Jay Sean.
While she continued to tour and even performed ahead of Oprah Winfrey’s visit to Melbourne’s Federation Square, Mauboy took a break from recording and focused on a newfound passion.
Mauboy, 24, made her acting debut in the 2010 film adaptation of the 1990 Aboriginal musical, Bran Nue Dae, and appeared in a guest role on TV mini-series, Underbelly: Razor, the following year.
But her most celebrated role has been in the 2012 critically acclaimed film, The Sapphires, which earned her the AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Mauboy echoes Irish actor Chris O’Dowd’s criticism of the hotly debated US DVD cover of the film, which relegates the four star Aboriginal characters to the background, while O’Dowd is featured in the foreground.
‘‘It is quite disrespectful when the four are there [in the background],’’ she says.
‘‘In terms of the elders and the original Sapphires I pulled it out and thought ‘Uh oh, this is going to be quite intense with everyone’s views on it.’’
But it hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm for her new craft.
‘‘It’s definitely something I want to continue and work strongly on, I’ve caught the bug, as they say.’’
Mauboy shrugs off comparisons to fellow singer and actress Beyonce Knowles, whose Australian tour she supported in 2009.
‘‘I totally disagree with that one,’’ she says. ‘‘I’ve only recently watched her documentary and was just blown away by how magnificent she really is and it’s so inspiring for me.
‘‘I just think she’s fantastic and I’m completely nowhere near where she is, but I aspire to that.’’
Mauboy’s accolades continue, with the 24-year-old named this year as Northern Territory Young Australian of the Year and this month picking up two Deadly Awards in the categories of Female Artist of the Year and Single of The Year, for her version of Etta James’ Something’s Got A Hold On Me.
‘‘It was quite surprising because I’d been away from music for quite a while,’’ she says.
‘‘It was quite nerve-racking and overwhelming to think the elders of the community feel that I’m a role model for their children. I was quite speechless at one point and quite emotional.’’
She also sang earlier this week at the Governor’s Ball, the official post-Emmy Awards party held in Los Angeles.
Mauboy’s current focus is promoting her third studio album Beautiful , which will be released on October 4.
‘‘It’s my book, it’s my bible, it’s my baby and really something I’ve been working on for two years off the back of The Sapphires,’’ she says.
‘‘There are songs that show it’s not always happy, it’s not always fun and although I like to be a very celebrative young woman, there are always those issues of doubt and trying to figure out who I am.’’
She said it was vital her forthcoming tour stops in Darwin, which she tries to visit often.
‘‘It’s my recharge to go back and be me and not be glamorous and not have to attend to anything – there’s no schedule, there’s no being on time, it’s just family time.
‘‘I love going home – it’s the one place that I always dream about and wish I could be and its the one thing that really keeps me happy.’’