Canadian artist Nelly Furtado quickly boosted her international music career
with her distinctive musical flair, shown in her debut album Whoa, Nelly (2001),
as well as in the sophomore recording Folklore (2003). The young recipient of a
Grammy Award and three Juno Awards (for her first album) rocked the music
industry with her hit singles “I’m Like a Bird” (2001), “Turn Off the Light”
(2001), “Powerless (Say What You Want)” (2003) and “Força” (2004). Preceding the
release of her third album, Loose, in June 2006, the singles “No Hay Igual,”
“Promiscuous” (featuring Timbaland) and “Maneater” were already launched.
Furtado, who has collaborated with various artists from various genres, got her
heavy musical influence from Jeff Buckley, Caetano Veloso, Amalia Rodrigues,
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Cornershop, Mariah Carey, TLC, Mary J. Blige, Digable
Planets, De La Soul, Radiohead, Oasis, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Verve, U2, and
The 58th woman on the 2002 Stuff magazine’s “102 Sexiest Women in The World”
list, Furtado will plunge deeper into the realm of acting by starring as Kari in
the Jason Lehel-helmed Nobody’s Hero (2006). Previously, she made a couple of
small screen appearances as herself.
Childhood and Family:
On December 2, 1978, Nelly Kim Furtado was born in Victoria, British Columbia,
Canada. A daughter of Portuguese immigrants Antonio Jose Furtado and Maria
Manuela Furtado, Nelly was named after Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim.
Having a genetic knack for music, Nelly first sang a duet with her mother at
church on Portugal Day at age 4. She then learned to play trombone and ukulele
at age 9, tried keyboards at age 11, and began composing by age 13. Nelly is
also uniquely multilingual, as she can speak English, Portuguese, Spanish and
Graduated from Mount Douglas Secondary School in Victoria, B.C., she later moved
further on in music. 5’ 1-inch tall Nelly is the mother of daughter Nevis (born
on September 20, 2003), from her relationship with DJ Lil Jaz/Jasper Gahunia
In high school , Nelly Furtado was acquainted with underground rappers and DJs,
and in the eleventh grade, she met Tallis Newkirk, a member of the hip-hop group
Plains of Fascination, who asked her to appear in the group’s track “Waitin’ 4
the Streets” (1996). After finishing her high school education, Furtado formed
the trip hop duo Nelstar, with Newkirk, but soon she left the group because the
trip-hop style of the duo did not fit her. Making a stage performance at a
talent show in a Toronto nightclub, she impressed The Philosopher Kings’ members
Gerald Eaton and Brian West, who insisted on helping her make a demo. Finally,
in 1999, the demo brought Furtado a record deal with DreamWorks Records, as well
as promoted her track “Party’s Just Begun,” a soundtrack for the motion picture
Brokedown Palace (1999).
On October 24, 2000, Furtado’s debut album, Whoa, Nelly, was released.
Co-produced by Eaton and West, the album landed a second place spot on the UK
and Canada charts, and later grabbed critics’ attention when it receiving four
Grammy nominations in 2002. Its first single, “I’m Like a Bird,” quickly climbed
up the charts, becoming a top ten hit in the US and a leader on Australian
charts. The single collected a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal and a Juno for
Best Single. The successful recording also set off the US Top 5 “Turn Off the
Light” and “...On The Radio (Remember The Days).” Thanks to her innovative
mixture of various genres and sounds in the album, Furtado was handed three
other Junos, one for Best New Solo Artist, one for Best Songwriter, and one for
Best Producer (shared with Gerald Eaton and Brian West). She also collaborated
with other artists in her remixed singles “I’m Like a Bird” (featured on
Esthero’s 2001 single “I Feel You”) and “Turn Off the Light Remix” (featuring
Ms. Jade and Timbaland).
Following her lucrative debut album, Furtado continued collaborating with other
artists. Performing at the Burn’s Spotlight tour and Moby’s Area: One tour, the
newcomer also shared the stage with Dave Stewart singing “Instant Karma” at the
concert of Come Together: A Night For John Lennon’s Words And Music.
Additionally, after joining Artists Against AIDS and contributing her vocals on
the track “What’s Going On,” she was featured in Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak
On” (Remix), which was a soundtrack for Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001).
Meanwhile, Furtado’s meteoric ascent to fame inevitably led her to the acting
world, where she appeared as herself in two episodes of the Portuguese TV show
“HermanSIC” (2000, 2001) and in an installment of the teen drama “Roswell”
(2001). The musical guest in a 2001 episode of “Saturday Night Live,” Furtado
provided the song “Trynna Find a Way” for the teen movie The Princess Diaries
The next year, she was a featured singer in Ms. Jade’s “Ching Ching,” Jarvis
Church’s “Fine Line,” Swollen Members’ “Breathe,” The Roots’ “Sacrifice,” and
Jurassic 5’s “Thin Line.” She also worked on Tallisman’s “Trés Fly” and Paul
Oakenfold’s “The Harder They Come,” before composing Juanes’ “Fotografía,” which
was made into a soundtrack for the Spanish soap opera “Velo de novia” (2003).
Furtado released her sophomore album, Folklore, on November 25, 2003. The second
album debuted at No. 11 in the UK and No. 4 in Germany. Its single, “Powerless
(Say What You Want),” became the Top 13 track in the US, whereas “Try” reached
the 15th spot on the UK charts. The recording also included an English-Spanish
song titled “Força” (released in 2004), the official song for the 2004 Euro Cup
soccer championship. It stayed in the 40th position in the UK and the number 9
spot on the German charts. The latter track was then remixed, featuring Spanish
singer Juanes and a sampling of Furtado’s Spanish version of “Powerless (Say
What You Want).”
While working with her album, she provided vocals for the 2004 AOL Sessions. She
also teamed up with Michael Bublé to sing “Quando, Quando, Quando” for his 2005
album, It’s Time, before appearing on Jelleestone’s “Friendamine” (2005).
Recently, the third album of the gifted artist, Loose, was released on June 20,
2006. Previously, three lead singles had already been released: the Spanish
reggaeton-influenced “No Hay Igual,” the hip-hop styled “Promiscuous” (featuring
Timbaland) and the US No.1 hit “Maneater” (released May 2006). Primarily
produced by Timbaland, the recording was more influenced by R&B and hip-hop.
Yet, the album lacked promotion as DreamWorks was shut down and many of its
artists, including Furtado, were absorbed into Geffen Records.
Furtado will soon be seen in her feature acting debut with the role of Kari, an
American Muslim, in the drama Nobody’s Hero (2006). In Jason Lehel’s movie, she
will costar opposite David O’Hara, who plays a young US Soldier returning from
the Iraq War.
Grammy: Best Pop Vocal, Female, “I’m Like A Bird,” 2002
Juno: Best Single, “I’m Like a Bird,” 2001
Juno: Best New Solo Artist, 2001
Juno: Best Producer, shared with Gerald Eaton and Brian West, 2001
Juno: Best Songwriter, 2001