by Kathy McCabe
JESSICA Mauboy is finally getting her shot to compete at the Eurovision Song Contest.
The Can I Get A Moment star will sing for Australia at the 2018 event in Portugal, four years after she won over bemused Europeans with her halftime performance of Sea Of Flags.
That performance sealed the deal for Australia to be invited into the competition as a wildcard entrant, with Dami Im getting close to winning it in 2016 and Guy Sebastian and Isaiah Firebrace finishing in the top 10.
Mauboy said she felt she had "unfinished business" at Eurovision and feared she had lost her chance to represent Australia with her special guest appearance in Copenhagen in 2014.
The much-loved singer had cheered on her good friends during their campaigns but the "deeply competitive" artist admitted she had suffered pangs of professional jealousy.
"Hell yeah, I was jealous," she said, laughing.
"Of course I was rooting for them and they all did so great. But I wanted to be on that stage; I wondered if I could crash it."
SBS, who has broadcast the event for 33 years, has enjoyed significant ratings success since Australia has graced the Eurovision stage, with almost three million people watching the semi-finals and finals this year.
More than 541,000 people watched Firebrace contest the grand final at 5am and another 1.1 million viewing the delayed prime time broadcast.
Head of Delegation Paul Clarke admitted SBS had wanted to give Mauboy a shot at competing.
"Jessica Mauboy's performance at ESC Copenhagen 2014 opened the door for Australia to compete at Eurovision - before the great moments of Guy, Dami and Isaiah there was Jess, who touched the hearts of the Eurovision directors and proved just how talented our vocalists are," he said.
"Since then we have always wanted to give Jessica a shot at the competition, and this year the stars aligned.
"We can't wait to develop a great song and stage production with Jessica and her team, and recreate her Eurovision-style as a galactic soul diva."
Mauboy will be the second indigenous artist to compete for Australia.
"I think that is huge. All of the contestants have shown what Australia can offer as one of the most multicultural countries in the world," she said.
"I think that's why we have such a love and connection with Eurovision because we have people from almost all of the countries of the world here."
Mauboy will co-write Australia's entry song and while tempted to try to unlock the formula to Eurovision success by studying previous winners, wants to focus on telling "my own story from my heart."
"Portugal is a country that has a rhythm; even when they speak, it sounds like they are singing," she said.
"It is such an opportunity to put all of my heart into creating something that will rock the world."
While there is little doubt Mauboy is much loved, as evidenced by the continuing success of her Secret Daughter soundtracks which have topped the charts and sold hundreds of thousands of copies, she is well aware the selection of the Australian contestant attracts plenty of polarising opinions.
"I know saying yes to this is going to start a lot of conversations whether I like it or not. I hope those conversations bring people together because that's what Eurovision is all about," she said.
She became emotional contemplating sharing the news with her family and has already started looking at flights to bring her Timorese father Ferdi and mother Therese, who is of the KuKu Yalanji tribe, to Lisbon with her.
"That would be full circle for me. It takes me back to the very, very beginning and the dream we have all shared, from them borrowing money to let me come from Darwin to the city to experience what music can do to your life and where it could lead," she said.