Nelly Furtado

Born: 1978, Victoria, BC
Debut: 2000
Genre: Pop Fusion


• Has sold 22 million albums and 18 million singles worldwide
• Had the 3rd biggest song of 2006 and 44th of the decade in the U.S. (“Promiscuous”)
• 13 Top 20 singles in Canada, including 8 Top Tens
• 17 Top 20 singles internationally
• 7 additional Top 20 singles as a featured / contributing artist
• Star on the Walk of Fame (2010)
• U.K. BRIT Award for Best International Female Solo Artist, 2007
• The only Canadian artist, through the decade, to win a BRIT award
• U.S. Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (“I’m Like a Bird”, 2001)
• Won 10 of 19 Juno Nominations, including song of the year thrice

Major Juno Awards

2001: Song of the Year, “I’m Like a Bird”
2004: Song of the Year, “Powerless”
2007: Song of the Year, “Promiscuous”
2007: Artist of the Year
2007: Album of the Year, Loose

Studio Albums and Hit Singles

2000: Whoa, Nelly!

• 4x Platinum
• 7 million copies sold worldwide
• Singles*: “I’m Like a Bird” (#1 CA; #2 AL & NZ; Juno for Song of the Year; Grammy Award), “Turn Off the Light” (#7 CA; #1 NZ), “Shit on the Radio” (#14 CA; #5 NZ), “Hey, Man!” (#20 CA)

2003: Folklore

• Platinum
• 3 million copies sold worldwide
• Singles: “Powerless” (#6 CA; #5 NL; Juno for Song of the Year), “Try” (#9 CA; #10 NL), “Forca” (#3 NL; #5 AT & SZ), “Explode” (#13 NL)

2006: Loose

• 5x Platinum
• 10 million copies sold worldwide
• Juno Award for Album of the Year
• Singles: “Promiscuous” (-w/ Timbaland- #1 CA, US, & NZ; #3 Billboard Year-End chart; Juno for Song of the Year), “Maneater” (#5 CA; #1 UK), “Te Busque” (-w/ Juanes- #4 NL), “All Good Things” (#5 CA; #1 AT, GE, NL, & SZ), “Say It Right” (#5 CA; #1 US, FR, NZ, SD, SZ)

2009: Mi Plan

• 2 million copies sold worldwide
• Spanish-language album
• Singles: “Manos al Aire” (#2 GE)

2009: The Spirit Indestructible

Nelly Furtado - The Spirit Indestructible

 • Singles: “Big Hoops” (#28 CA)

Other Singles

• “Night Is Young” (#20 CA) from compilation album The Very Best of Nelly Furtado

Songs with Nelly Furtado as a Featured Artist

• “What’s Going On”, Artists Against AIDS Charity Single (#6 UK)
• “Give It to Me”, with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake (#1 CA, UK, & US)
• “Broken Stings”, with James Morrison (#1 GE, SD, SZ)
• “Jump”, with Flo Rida (#18 AL)
• “Morning After Dark”, with Timbaland and SoShy (#8 CA; #6 UK, GE, & SD)
• “Who Wants to Be Alone”, with Tiesto (#17 NL)
• “Wavin’ Flag”, with Young Artists for Haiti (#1 CA; Juno for Song of the Year in 2011)
• “Is Anybody Out There”, with K’Naan (#14 CA; 52nd biggest hit of 2012)

Legend: CA-Canada, AL-Australia, AT-Austria, FR-France, NL-Netherlands, NZ-New Zealand, GE-Germany, SD-Sweden, SZ-Switzerland, UK-United Kingdom, US-United States.

* Besides Canada, western countries with the highest chart position reported only. Most of her singles made the Top 5 in many countries around the world.

Nelly Furtado is one of the few Canadian artists to win a Juno, BRIT, and Grammy award, the three most prestigious music awards in the English-speaking world. It has proved very difficult for Canadians to win a BRIT award, as the British have normally given the awards in their international categories to Irish and American artists.

Furtado’s parents immigrated to Canada from Portuguese islands the Azores in the 1960s. She was born and raised in the capital of British Columbia and was named after Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim. She began singing in Portuguese from age four. At nine, she began learning to play musical instruments including the trombone, ukulele, guitar, and keyboards. She began writing songs when she was 12. In her teens she joined a Portuguese marching band. She also taught herself Spanish, which is relatively close to Portuguese. Her first job was working as a chambermaid.

After high school, Nelly moved to Toronto to live with her sister. She performed at the Honey Jam talent show attracting the attention of The Philosopher Kings’ Gerald Eaton and Brian West. They helped her put together a demo tape of her songs which was well-received by Los Angeles-based DreamWorks Records. Her first (promotional) single “Party’s Just Begun” appeared in the soundtrack of the film Brokedown Palace.

Her debut album, Whoa, Nelly!, co-written and co-produced by Eaton and West, came out in Y2K. “I’m Like a Bird” was an international Top 5 hit, winning for her a slew of awards, including a Grammy and the Juno for song of the year. The song, along with “Turn off the Light”, were the only two songs by a Canadian artist to appear in the Billboard Hot 100 year-end chart for 2001. The album was certified quadruple-platinum in Canada and sold 7 million copies worldwide. It was also praised by music critics for incorporating an innovative blending of various musical styles.

She embarked on an exhaustive tour to support the album, after which she visited her parents’ old stamping grounds—their home village in the Azores. By this time she was pregnant with her daughter, Nevis, the father being Jasper Gahunia. The connection with her roots from the trip influenced her crafting of Folklore, her sophomore album. Furtado opted for a less poppy, more artistic sound, inviting several skilled musicians to contribute: Brazilian folk legend Caetano Veloso, American banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, strings group the Kronos Quartet, and Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger.

“Powerless (Say What You Want)” won her second Juno for song of the year. “Força” became the official anthem of the 2004 European Football Championship. She performed the song at the final in Lisbon. Although the lower sales were attributed to the album’s less poppy sound, DreamWorks did not promote the album as well as her first, caught up in the disarray of being sold to Universal Music. Later it was taken over by Geffen.

American producer Timbaland (Timothy Zachery Mosley) agreed to produce Nelly’s third album, Loose, a mishmash of pop, R&B, hip hop, and 80s new wave. She had, in the three years since Folklore, written 40 songs and chose the 13 best to appear on the album. It became her most successful work, selling 10 million copies worldwide and winning for her Junos for album of the year and artist of the year. She also won her third Juno for song of the year (“Promiscuous”). Moreover, Furtado won the coveted BRIT Award in the United Kingdom for Best International Female Solo Artist. She was the only Canadian artist to do so through the entire decade (2000-2009). Loose spawned four number one singles around the world. Although “Promiscuous” finished as the 3rd biggest song of the year in the U.S., the song “Say It Right” ultimately became Nelly Furtado’s biggest hit internationally, topping the charts in France, New Zealand, the United States, Sweden, and Switzerland. It peaked at #2 in Australia, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands. It was #5 in Canada and #10 in the U.K.

In 2008, Furtado married Cuban sound engineer Demacio Castellón, who had worked on her Loose album.

Nelly released, not a Portuguese, but a Spanish-language album, Mi Plan in 2009. She had included the odd Portuguese song in previous albums and probably felt that Spanish was a more lucrative market. She justified the choice by saying that she loved Spanish pop music and most Portuguese music embraced more traditional styles. The album peaked at #6 on the European albums chart. Unfortunately, we do not have access to the charts in Spain and Latin America to see how well the singles did.

Nelly Furtado performed a duet with Bryan Adams at the start of the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. That year, she received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto. She released a greatest hits album with three new songs including “Night Is Young” as well as a Mi Plan remix album, a dancier version of her Spanish release.

In 2012, Furtado released The Spirit Indestructible, the biggest hit from the album being “Big Hoops” which made the Top 30.  She also collaborated with K’Naan in the Top 15 single “Is Anybody Out There”.

                    Copyright 2011 by the Canadian Music Blog