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Nelly Furtado

Nelly FurtadoAKA Nelly Kim Furtado

Born: 2-Dec-1978
Birthplace: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Bisexual [1]
Occupation: Musician

Nationality: Canada
Executive summary: Whoa, Nelly!

Raised amongst the picturesque scenery of the British Columbian capitol, Nelly Furtado was the first of her Portuguese family to have been born on Canadian soil. The extensive musical involvement of her parents and grandparents worked its influence on Furtado from the very beginning: at the age of four, she was already singing in both English and Portuguese and accompanying herself on the ukelele. Starting at the age of nine, she began broadening her instrumental skills to include a considerably larger quantity of saliva, taking up the trombone and putting it to use in jazz, classical and marching band contexts. By her teen years she had added the guitar to her repetoire and Hindi to her vocabulary, working to hone her vocal skills throughout and throwing in dance training to keep her lower half from getting bored. In the early 90s the hip-hop stylings of acts like TLC and Ice-T made a strong impression; inspired by their approach to creating songs, her own exploration of hip-hop sampling techniques was undertaken, and for a time Furtado contributed backing vocals to a Toronto-based hip-hop group.

The eclectic musical stew created by these varied experiences first set music industry stomachs grumbling at a talent contest in Toronto, where the bulk of Furtado's competition consisted of black R&B singers. In attendance was the manager of the Canadian funk band The Philosopher Kings, who immediately recognized the 18-year-old singer's potential; soon afterwards a demo session was arranged with the King's Eaton and West/Track and Field production team. Unsure of what direction her future should take, Furtado hesitated before fully commiting herself to a recording career -- in the midst of completing her education. A productive second session in Toronto decided the issue, however, as well as paving the way for a contract with DreamWorks Records: by the end of 2000 her debut offering Whoa Nelly! was on the streets and manhandling the music charts. Leading with the single I'm Like A Bird and following up with Turn Off The Light and Shit on the Radio (Remember the Days), she took up residence in the top 40 for the first couple years of the 00s. Her popularity took off with such velocity that before long she was added to the Lilith Fair touring festival roster alongside many veteran female performers.

Subsequent to the release of her first album, Furtado focused for a while on the hip-hop corner of her interests, contributing vocals to both the remix of Missy Elliott's Get Ur Freak On and the Timbaland-produced Ms. Jade single Ching Ching (adding a bit of Indian flavoring to the latter). With the release of her second album Folklore (2003), a less pop-oriented return to her blend of musical influences was made and a greater emphasis was placed on non-Western sources -- a choice reflected in diverse selection of guest performers that appear on the various tracks, who range from the avant-garde ensemble The Kronos Quartet to Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso and banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck. The album also featured the track Forca, commisioned by the country of her parent's birth for the Euro 2004 football (soccer) tournament in Portugal; the following year Furtado would perform the song during the tournament's opening ceremony.

[1] Interview, Genre magazine, June 2006, when asked if she had an attraction to women: "Absolutely. Women are beautiful and sexy. It is interesting, because I'm reading a book about Chinese medicine, which claims that people are inherently bisexual to balance their energies. And, in a way, that makes so much sense. As humans we have both male and female energies. I believe in Kurt Cobainís statement that, in the end, everyone is gay. Everybody should have the freedom to experiment. I believe sexual experimentation is part of human history."

Boyfriend: Jasper Gahunia ("DJ Lil Jaz", musician, one daughter)
Daughter: Nevis (b. 20-Sep-2003)

    Nelly Furtado
    Grammy Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (2001)
    Juno Best Single (2001)
    Juno Best New Solo Artist (2001)
    Juno Best Producer (with Gerald Eaton and Brian West) (2001)
    Juno Best Songwriter (2001)
    Portuguese Ancestry

    Score: A Hockey Musical (9-Sep-2010)
    Max Payne (15-Oct-2008)

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