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Count Jessica Mauboy among the myriad young singers launched to fame via the reality TV phenomenon of the early 21st century. Born August 4, 1989, in Darwin, Australia, Mauboy's earned her first taste of celebrity at 14, when she won a local talent search and scored a recording deal with Sony. Her country-inspired rendition of the Cyndi Lauper hit "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" went nowhere, however, and she returned to relative obscurity until auditioning for the Network Ten amateur talent showcase Australian Idol 2006. Despite a few bumps in the road — most notably a sore throat that resulted in a mediocre rendition of Phil Collins' "Another Day in Paradise" and near-elimination — Mauboy succeeded to the finals, albeit not without controversy: Detractors cited her previous Sony tenure as grounds for dismissal, but since the contract had long ago expired, Australian Idol producers refused to boot her from the show. Considered the favorite by prognosticators, Mauboy nevertheless fell to Damien Leith on the series' November 13, 2006, finale. A month later she signed to Sony BMG and in February 2007 issued her debut LP, The Journey, cracking the Aussie Top Five thanks in part to the album's lead single, a cover of the Christina Aguilera ballad "Beautiful."