• Jessica Mauboy being interviewed about the move into acting and breaking records as an Indigenous woman. (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Pop star Jessica Mauboy talks acting, music, and growing up in a musical family with Living Black's Karla Grant.
Staff writers

6 Dec 2017 - 9:24 AM  UPDATED 15 Dec 2017 - 9:25 AM

Just after the launch of the second season with Secret Daughter in which she stars as the lead character, Jessica Mauboy says she is thrilled the series has been a success so far and was picked up again.

"It is very exciting that we get to have another go at Secret Daughter and, you know, we've spent this year [on it], or the end of last year," she tells Living Black.

"The first season was quite amazing. It blew me away with how it was received and, you know, everyone turning their, you know, televisions on and, and watching the show and really becoming involved with every individual character.

"So you know ... (laughs) having that second time rollout, um, with season two was... yeah it was pretty magical to reconnect again.

Mauboy has also contributed to the musical character of the program, with a number of tracks performed by her featuring on the show's soundtrack.

This includes two original singles, Fallin and Then I Met You as well as covers of contemporary and past hits.

"The Secret Daughter season two album was really kind of recreating what we did with the first record and, have that really come off the show and, and translate into a record," says Mauboy.

"So, having those really kind of raw moments and really spacey moments, that are quite deep and emotional, but yet still quiet and fulfilling, too, and not moving so far away from the original songs, which I think, was a real kind of creative time, and a worried time, too, because, you know, these are really classic songs.

"I mean, from the first season, we had 'Flame Trees', Cold Chisel, Crowded House. On the second one, on season two, we also thought it'd be really nice to continue that. Really getting ... Australian music and recreating it for those stories in the show.

Covering the work of other such iconic local artists as well as international giants like on Aretha Franklin's soul classic Respect. 

"It is scary," says Mauboy. It's daunting.

"I think at that point, so many emotions that you kinda do have to let out in the end, so it, it made ... It made sense, I guess, with all of these songs because I also had my own personal Jess Mauboy connection with it growing up.

"And as well as giving that life to the character as well and really connecting emotionally was really the key with all of these songs and moments of how we could really physically project it."

It can be difficult when so many people have expectations of songs by other artists she says.  

"Like for instance, you know, Aretha Franklin, that song Respect, I mean, everyone knows that song. Everyone knows the lyrics, um, and those pocket points, I guess, you know, was really nerve-wracking to me because you- It's a song where you kinda have to get it right." 

Despite the high bar to overcome when covering songs, it's worth it when you pull it off says Mauboy.

"One of the major compliments had come from Jimmy Barnes himself, with Flame Trees. I had a call from him and most of his family as well, who I really closely work with. Actually the first one was Mahalia Barnes and we had connected and she's like: 'Man, you ... you killed that track in such a really good way and, you know, Dad's really, really proud'. And, and eventually, down the track I got to connect with Jimmy and, Yeah, I was really, really nervous of what he was going to say."

In 2016 Mauboy made ARIA Chart history as the first indigenous woman to achieve three consecutive weeks at number one with the sound track of season one of Secret Daughter.

"I think that really kind of represents people, the way people feel, I think whether it is identity, whether it's just ... you know, just being you, being human, I think that always kind of really gets to me in an emotional way, I think. I think being able to give love and celebration of what you do is really important and empowering. 

"I think, you know, a lot of people need that and, if I can do that, if I can stand up there and be acknowledged by that and for that, yeah, that's everything. I think that says it all. Um, that I'm heading in the right direction, that I'm, I'm meant to be doing this, and ... And that I really, genuinely love it and, if that's showing, then I'm all good. I'm a very, very happy person. (laughs) My life is complete."

Born in Darwin, Mauboy recalls growing up in the Mauboy family with four sisters.

"The Mauboy house was a crazy house. (laughs) Um ... Mum's mad."

"Dad's mad in his own way. Just really loud. It was a very kind of expressive place and I think that's ... that was ... that's what we really valued, I think.

"It was outspoken. Everyone loved each other, no matter what. Everyone really supported each other and I think for me, that's a great family.

"We had our differences, but it worked and we loved that about each other."

She recalls that music was always present in the Mauboy home growing up.

"I wouldn't say my mum is a good singer. She, she can hold a tune. She's alright, but she's a jukebox. Like, she knows every artist and what they sing and what they've done and ... And I think that's where I, you know, I kind of really became my own, you know? I had all these variety of music."

"Dad played bass guitar, um, and acoustic, um, played piano  and he was really obviously into music. Grew up singing in a Christian church. His father and his mother, um, leaded the congregation in their Indonesian missionary church and we- I guess we were very much a part of that. We, we went with that, that path and that journey and, and ... And that's really where, you know, from home to church  to ... (laughs) to bars and pubs."

There was also a chance to work with Dr G Yunupingu before he passed earlier this year.

"Dr G is a major influence," she says. "And it's really sad that he's gone. It was a real shock I was, uh, in a Sydney studio, and we had, um, had this idea of really collaborating with, um, legendary artists like, you know, Dr G. And it was a dream come true, to be honest, I've always loved his music and still love his music."

Watch the full interview with Jessica Mauboy on Living Black tonight from 9pm on NITV Channel 34.