From Idol to The Voice: Jessica Mauboy's fabulous rise to the top

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It's been more than 15 years since Jessica Mauboy rose to fame on the fourth season of Australian Idol.

She is now one of Australia's most successful female artists.

 Former Australian Idol contestant Jessica Mauboy with long dark hair worn loose performs during an Australian Idol Concert at Federation Square on September 26, 2007 in Melbourne, Australia.
Jessica Mauboy shot to fame on Australian Idol in 2006, but started singing as a child. Photo: Getty Images

She was just a child when her talent was noticed.

“My first ever audition was in the Northern Territory; my mum and her sister drove me to Adelaide River," she recalled for Marie Claire magazine a year ago.

"I was 11 years old. We got there and I looked around and there was nobody my age – everyone was in their 20s.

“I won. I received two trophies and a $500 cheque. From that moment, I knew this was something that I’m going to do.”

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Family mantra kept her grounded

The recognition gave her the strength to move away from home at the tender age of 16 to follow her dreams, but she took her family's mantra with her.

"Don't forget where you come from and always respect the opportunities that come to you," they told her.

The multi-talented singer, actress and musician has garnered many awards for her albums and singles, starred in films Bran Nue Dae and The Sapphires, and was named Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Her TV work starring in The Secret Daughter cemented her position as Aussie's sweetheart.

A still of Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman wearing purple sequinned gowns against a red curtain from the movie The Sapphires
Shari Sebbens, Miranda Tapsell, Jessica Mauboy and Deborah Mailman in The Sapphires

However, after pushing herself for so long she admitted losing her love for music.

“From the age of 11 to 30 (I dedicated myself) to music… But I think I just got lost a little bit in who I was and what I really wanted to do," she told Andrew Denton in a 2019 interview.

"There was a lot of noise and a lot of doubt again,” she said.

“I lost the relationship (with) music for six years. I just had to regain and reconnect back with it… It was scary."

Her album Hilda, named in honour of her grandmother, helped her reconnect with her passion.

“To have found it was the most magical thing," she said.

"To kind of rediscover it again in a new light, in a new story, in a new way.”

And in 2020 she decided to take control of her career, parting ways with her long-time manager and changing record labels.

"I knew I needed to do things my way and take the reins," she revealed last year to Elle Magazine.

"Last year [2020] was probably my lowest and also my highest, because I gained so much strength. I feel the most free I've ever felt."

In a pink button-up shorts suit, Jessica Mauboy performs during Fire Fight Australia at ANZ Stadium on February 16, 2020 in Sydney, Australia.
Jessica Mauboy performed at the Fire Fight Australia at ANZ Stadium in 2020. Photo: Getty Images

'Saltwater, freshwater and desert'

Jess is a proud Kuku Yalanji woman, celebrating her indigenous heritage.

"I was born on Dreamtime land and grew up in Darwin with my mum and four sisters in the suburb of Wulagi," she told Marie Claire in support of the Uluru Statement From The Heart.

"I feel like I was born cultural. I am Darwin, I am the Northern Territory, I am the salt water, the freshwater and the desert."

Becoming a role model for many young indigenous and non-indigenous Australians alike is something Jessica has come to accept, but she hopes it leads them to self-discovery.

"I respect that I have become a role model or healer to a little girl or young man, but for them to sit with their feelings is the best," she says.

The Voice coaches Guy Sebastian, Rita Ora, Jessica Mauboy and Keith Urban stand on the set. At right, Jessica sits in a red shiny coat on the set.
Jess is a coach on The Voice with Guy Sebastian, Rita Ora and Keith Urban. Photo: Seven Network

After getting engaged to long-term partner Themeli Magripilis in Greece in 2020, last year brought many changes for Jess, including her new album Glow under her new label and joining The Voice as a coach.

Now she's back to her coaching duties on The Voice, and maybe this year she'll also find time to walk down the aisle!

The Voice Australia is coming soon to Channel 7 and 7Plus

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