Nelly Kim Furtado is a Canadian singer-songwriter, record producer and actress of Portuguese descent. She has sold 20 million albums worldwide. Furtado grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Furtado was born on December 2, 1978, in Victoria, British Columbia to Portuguese parents, Maria Manuela and António José Furtado, both emigrants from the Azores. She was named after Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim. Her parents were born on São Miguel Island and immigrated to Canada in the late 1960s. Her siblings are Michael Anthony and Lisa Anne. She was raised in a Roman Catholic home.
At age four she began performing and singing in Portuguese. Furtado's first public performance was when she sang a duet with her mother at a church on Portugal Day. She began playing musical instruments at the age of nine, learning the trombone, ukulele and — in later years — the guitar and keyboards. At the age of 12, she began writing songs, and as a teenager, she performed in a Portuguese marching band.
Furtado has acknowledged her family as the source of her strong work ethic; she spent eight summers working as a chambermaid with her mother, along with her brother and sister who was a housekeeper in Victoria. She has stated that coming from a working class background has shaped her identity in a positive way.
On September 20, 2003, in Toronto, Furtado gave birth to a daughter, Nevis, whose father is Jasper Gahunia. Furtado and Gahunia, who had been good friends for several years, remained together for four years until their breakup in 2005. They continue to be good friends and jointly share responsibility of raising Nevis. She married Cuban sound engineer Demacio "Demo" Castellón on July 19, 2008.
Furtado came into the public eye in 2000 with the release of her debut album Whoa, Nelly!, which featured her breakthrough Grammy Award-winning single "I'm Like a Bird". After becoming a mother and releasing the less commercially successful Folklore (2003), she returned to prominence in 2006 with the release of Loose and its hit singles "Promiscuous", "Maneater", "All Good Things (Come to an End)" and "Say It Right". In 2009, she released her first full-length Spanish album Mi Plan, which won a Latin Grammy Award in 2010. She has formed her own record label, Nelstar, in conjunction with Canadian independent label group Last Gang Labels. Furtado was honoured with a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in October 2010.
Furtado is known for experimenting with different instruments, sounds, genres and vocal styles and languages. This diversity has been influenced by her wide-ranging musical taste and her interest in different cultures.