BLACK MUSIC MATTERS

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Running Back (J Mauboy/A Mtawarira/SR Mullins)-  J Mauboy ft Flo Rida and Burn (T Jackson/J Jeberg/M Hansen) – Jessica Mauboy 2008.

Jessica Hilda Mauboy was born in 1989 in Darwin (Nth.Territory), her parents were West Timorese father Ferd and mother Therese, an indigenous woman of the Kuku Yalanji people (together below), she was the fourth child of five sisters, and both her parents and sisters were musical. Jessica joined her mother and maternal grandmother Hilda as members of the local church choir, and after deciding her future would be as a singer, she dropped out of the local Sanderson High School after Year 11.

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At age fourteen she won the 2004 Tamworth Country Music Festival singing competition, was signed to a contract with Sony and released her first record, a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, which failed to chart. The promo clip was a homemade vlog which featured Jessica and her girlfriends miming the song in her bedroom and around the backyard pool, it was amateurish, Jessica’s singing was flat and perfunctory, to choose such an iconic Cyndi Lauper song to cover, was a mistake.  

A Playdate that Turned into a Music Vlog.

In 2006 Mauboy was runner-up to Damien Leith in the fourth series of Australian Idol, she was seventeen and was again signed to Sony Music, her debut live album The Journey was released in 2007 and charted #4 locally selling over 35,0000.

Later that year she joined the vocal group The Young Divas who scored a hit with the album New Attitude when it climbed to #10 and the lead single Turn Me Loose peaked at #15. In 2008 Mauboy departed the Young Divas to pursue a solo career which led to the disbanding of the group, and the subsequent release of Mauboy’s debut studio album Been Waiting in late 2008.

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The album featured mostly R&B-influenced songs and was a solid debut, there were no obvious traditional Aboriginal musical influences or instrumentation and the lead single Running Back, featured US rapper Flo Rida, and reflected the strong influence of American pop, R&B, and rap/urban music on Mauboy’s song choices. The song was part smooth urban pop ballad with twinkling keyboards and lovelorn lyrics, and deceptively slinky contemporary hip hop, which would chart #3 here, sell in excess of 140,000 copies, and take out the 2009 ARIA Award for Highest-Selling Single.

Recorded at The Sound Academy (Syd) and mixed at the Soapbox Studios (Atlanta, Georgia), Flo Rida (below) literally phoned in his vocals from Florida (USA), but his hip hop inserts were effective. Flo Rida’s cameo on Jessica’s debut track was significant – he was literally a singer-for-hire and a prodigious collaborator to this time, with such artists as T-Pain, Timbaland, will.i.am, Sean Kingston, Lil Wayne, Brisco, Michelle Williams, and others, and he would sell over 100 million records by the end of the decade, it was hoped that his feature appearance would help to break Mauboy in the USA, but unfortunately it didn’t. The video was filmed in Melbourne by Fin Edquist when Rida was touring in Australia, it portrays a fictional relationship between Mauboy and Flo Rida, in which he is unfaithful, and she feel the angst, it was inspired by a real-life toxic relationship experienced by Mauboy with another person.

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The second single lifted off the album, Burn, would become Mauboy’s first #1 hit and sell 70,000 copies, it was co-composed and co-produced by Danish wunderkind producer/DJ Mich “Cutfather” Hansen, who had previously worked with other Aussies Kylie Minogue and Peter Andre. The song was a dancefloor banger which merged R&B and electronica, a contagious chorus, and a Rihanna-like ambience, with lyrics that yet again were inspired by infidelity and a toxic relationship, albeit in an unintentionally humorous way ”Look what you did to me, cut me so very deep/ I need a doctor ’cause this is startin’ to burn…” which could become part of the next STI public information campaign. The promo video directed by Keir McFarlane was filmed in the Sydney Botanical Gardens, ands intros with Mauboy sitting in the driver’s seat of a red Ferrari, she segues to dancing and singing with backup dancers in front of a background of flames, and then cuts to a club scene where Jessica is surrounded mostly by female dancers.

Been Waiting charted for over 50 weeks, assisted by Mauboy’s live performances and her support slot on the Australian leg of Beyonce’s I Am… World Tour, her debut sound palette of urban grooves, R&B, skittering beats and airy synths, and her assured vocals, should have resonated more successfully outside of Jessica’s home market, where it charted # 12 and sold 140,000 copies. The album continued to generate hit singles with the title track Been Waiting (#10) and the fourth single Because (#8)  both charting top ten, Up/Down continued her debut dream run when it climbed to #10 and the sixth and final single Let Me Be Me peaked at #28 in December 2009, Jessica had released five top ten singles between September ’08 – August in ’09, and had become very hot, very quickly. Mauboy was also embarking on a movie career with starring roles in the musical Bran Nue Dae (2010) and The Sapphires (2012), and in 2016 she was a cast member of the local TV series The Secret Daughter for two seasons, she would also continue to have more hit albums and singles into the future, and become the most successful solo female indigenous performer in the country.  

 

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