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2 February 2005
Country Music Star
Every year, the biggest country music festival is held in Tamworth, in rural New South Wales. This year, the winner of the best new talent competition was special - she's just 14 years old.

MURRAY McLAUGHLIN: Jessica Mauboy was just 14 when she became the newest star of Australian country and western music.

This performance won her the new talent contest at this year's Tamworth Festival and the instant endorsement of one of Australia's leading performers.

GINA JEFFREYS: She's got a big, big future ahead of her and I think she's going to be a big star. She's such an extraordinary singer. She's a lovely girl. Very young, beautiful, you know. You've got to have all that these days. You've got to be young, like her, and beautiful and sing like that. She's extraordinary.

JESSICA MAUBOY: When I get up on stage, I just feel free and I can do anything with the mike.

But when I'm off stage, yeah, that's when I get quite nervous.

MURRAY McLAUGHLIN: She's an ordinary girl at home among her extended family in the Darwin suburb of Wulagi.

Singing infects them all.

Father Freddy was brought up in East Timor and sang in a church choir.

Jessica's mother, Theresa, grew up in Mount Isa, where her Aboriginal family were country music followers.

Jessica, like her four sisters, sang from infancy.

THERESA MAUBOY: She started singing - she was about two.

Black or White, she started singing Michael Jackson.

She heard that on the TV and she just started going for it.

FREDDY MAUBOY: All my girls they singing from when they were babies, like three-years-old and all that.

And when they go out and turn the TV on or go some places where the music are and they're singing.

But to discover that this girl's got a talent, especially Jessica, only when she was seven, eight-year-old.

MURRAY McLAUGHLIN: Judy Weepers was Jessica's music teacher at primary school.

Back then, she recognised Jessica as exceptional among the thousands of students whom she's taught around Darwin schools over many years.

She broke the rule of a lifetime and took on Jessica for private tuition after school hours.

JUDY WEEPERS: She bends her notes and she'd obviously listened to a lot of her favourite singers and had developed this lovely, modern style - which, you know, I'm classically trained, I don't find that easy - but she had developed it and I didn't want that tampered with because I felt that this was really quite a talent.

MURRAY McLAUGHLIN: Jessica Mauboy was too young by four years to take up her prize from Tamworth of two weeks training at a country music school.

The contest organisers have had to model another program for her.

One part of the prize she has been able to take up is a chance to record a professional CD and last month she was at Sony music studios in Sydney.

There'll be a video clip too.

Her music teacher Judy Weepers sees a big career ahead.

JUST WEEPERS: I think she has the potential to be another Maria Carey, quite frankly. She has the potential to sing anything, really.

story notes

The past tense of the irregular verb become.
more information: become

 country and western music
Country and western music is a style of music that comes from the western and southern states of the United States. It is based on a traditional rural style of music. It's often just called country music.

The past tense of the irregular verb win.
more information: win

Mike is short for microphone.

 brought up
raised; grew up
Example: I was brought up in the country.
There are other meanings for the phrasal verb bring up
more information: bring up

Followers are fans, or people who have a strong interest in something.

The past tense of the irregular verb sing.
more information: sing

Infancy comes from the word infant. An infant is a baby or a small child.
Infancy describes the time when you are a baby or small child. So Jessica has been singing since she was a baby.

The past participle of the irregular verb teach.
more information: teach

the past tense of the irregular verb break.
more information: break

 too young by four years
She had to be 18 to take up the training at a country music school. Notice that we spell too t-o-o in this case.
more information: to too

 take up
Here, to take up means to accept something.
Example: I'm going to take up that job offer.
You can look at some more meanings of the phrasal verb take up.
more information: take up

 professional CD
A professional CD is a CD made by experts.

 music studios
A music studio is a place where music is recorded. It's got all the equipment you need to make a CD.

 video clip
a video recording of a song

We also use the spelling t-o-o when the word means as well.
more information: to too