Nelly Furtado Biography

Singer, Songwriter (1978–)
Canadian singer Nelly Furtado topped the charts with songs like "I'm Like a Bird" (2000), "Promiscuous" (2006) and "Say it Right" (2007).


Born in Victoria, British Columbia on December 2, 1978, Nelly Kim Furtado grew up in a musical household with her Portuguese parents. At 18, she entered a talent competition and was discovered by an impresario. This led to a record contract and her debut album Whoa, Nelly! in 2000. Her hit songs include "I'm Like a Bird" (2000), "Promiscuous" (2006) and "Say it Right" (2007).

Early Life

Nelly Kim Furtado was born on December 2, 1978 in Victoria, British Columbia. In a sense, Furtado's future musical success seemed assured: her family, of Portuguese descent, was very musical. Her mother, Maria Manuela, was a church choir singer and her father, António José was a big fan of the Portuguese music called fado. In another sense, the fame and fortune Furtado has achieved must have seemed impossible when, as a child, she accompanied her mother on her job as a housekeeper.

Furtado's musical promise surfaced early, and she played various instruments such as the ukulele and trombone as well as dancing and singing. At the age of four, she performed a duet with her mother at church in celebration of Portugal Day. She was part of a jazz band, a concert band, and a marching band in addition to appearing in school plays and musicals. When Furtado was eight, she received a tape recorder and microphone as a gift. This gift and her fascination with hip-hop groups and artists such as TLC, Bel Biv Devoe, Ice-T and Mariah Carey led her to experiment with the sampling techniques used by those acts.

Big Break

When she was 18, Furtado entered a talent show for young female urban performers held in Toronto, the Honey Jam. Her performance caught the eye of the manager of the Philosopher Kings, a funk/pop group. Furtado recorded a track with the help of Gerald Eaton and Brian West (of the Philosopher Kings). Impressed with what they heard, Eaton and West persuaded Furtado to return to Toronto to cut more tracks. Their work paid off when Furtado landed a record contract with DreamWorks Records and eventually recorded her debut album, Whoa Nelly!

Furtado toured in support of that album and also played the Lilith Fair, an all-female musical showcase. Subsequent albums have received critical acclaim and further demonstrated Furtado??s aim of exploring the world through music. Headquartered in Toronto, which she calls the most multi-culturally diverse city in the world, Furtado continues to experiment with musical styles and genres.

Personal Life

Nelly Furtado's daughter, with DJ Jasper Gahunia, was born on September 20, 2003. Furtado and Gahunia remained together for several years before there break-up in 2005. Daughter Nevis is one quarter Filipino, one quarter Asian Indian, and one half Portuguese.

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