Nelly Furtado

  • Canadian pop singer and songwriter born in 1978 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Furtado’s parents were Portuguese, and as a child, she performed in public singing Portuguese. She started writing music at the age of 12, and she performed in a Portuguese marching band as a teenager. In 1995, she met a member of a hip hop group while visiting her sister, and after graduating from high school, she formed a trip-hop duo with the artist, naming themselves Nelstar. Soon after forming the duo, she realized that trip-hop did not feature her talents in a way that she wanted, and she left. In 1997, she performed at a talent contest, and two members of the Canadian pop band the Philosopher Kings saw her performance. They were impressed and they helped her record a demo of her songs. The demo was shopped to various record labels, and in 1999 she was signed to a contract.
  • That year, she contributed the song Party’s Just Begun Again to the soundtrack for the film Brokedown Palace. Her debut studio album was released in 2000 – Whoa, Nelly! It was an immediate hit, certified 2x platinum, driven by the singles I’m Like A Bird and Turn Off the Light. The former peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 and it won the Grammy award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 2002. The latter reached #5 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Dance Club Songs chart. The album was lauded by critics as a refreshing change from “pop-princesses” and rap-metal music that were prevalent at the time.
  • Her second studio album, Folklore, was released in 2003. It was less popular than her first album, as it songs were less “poppy,” and her label did not promote it much. None of the singles made the Hot 100, though Powerless (Say What You Want) managed to reach #5 on the Dance Club Songs chart. A single from the album, Força, was the official anthem of the 2004 European Football Championship – the chorus of the song was sung in Portuguese.
  • In 2005, she hired Timbaland to help produce her third album. The following year, she released Loose. The influence of Timbaland gave the album a dance-pop and hip hop sound, and it became her most successful record worldwide. It was a top 10 album in over 20 countries, including #1 in the U.S. Two singles from the album topped the Hot 100 chart – Promiscuous (featuring Timbaland) and Say It Right. Both songs were in the top 10 of Billboard’s year-end chart for 2007, and Promiscuous was #44 for the entire decade of the 00s. A third single from the album, Maneater, topped the Dance Club Songs chart and reached #16 on the Hot 100.
  • Now a star in the industry, she was asked to collaborate on records from other artists. In 2007, she was the featured artist along with Justin Timberlake on Timbaland’s single Give It To Me – the single topped the Hot 100 as well as the singles chart in the UK and Canada.
  • Furtado released a Spanish album in 2009 titled Mi Plan. It topped the Latin Pop Albums chart in the U.S., and the single Manos al Aire reached #1 on the Hot Latin Songs chart. In the 10s decade, she released two studio albums, and ten singles were released, with only modest success – her highest charting single was a #1 song on the Dance Club chart titled Sticks and Stones in 2018. She stepped away from the limelight since then – she admitted to having a nervous breakdown in 2006 while on tour, and she commented that the touring and partying made her feel like a fraud.
  • While Furtado is no longer active in the music industry, her success in the 00s undoubtedly allows her to make ends meet. I’m sure she’s making a steady income due to Promiscuous and Say It Right, but I prefer her earlier work – it feels more indie, not over-produced to meet the formula for “a hit.” Here’s the video to I’m Like a Bird. Enjoy!

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