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Nelly Furtado
Nelly Furtado is no stranger to confusion. Her debut album, an eclectic and multi-cultural musical pot pourri called Whoa Nelly! left many wondering what genre she belonged to. She sailed through breakbeat, hip-hop, trip-hop, jazz, pop and world music with an energy that was astounding. Her striking resemblance to actress Courteney Cox only added to the puzzling mix. A Grammy award and successful album cleared the air of mystery and now Nelly Furtado no longer needs an introduction.

In conversation with The Record on the phone Nelly is a true livewire, delightful and enthusiastic and definitely living up to her label as the Ďsaviour of teen popí. In an exclusive interview, our June 2004 cover girl tells us about music, motherhood, being youthful and how she actually sang Kabhi Kabhi in Hindi as a teenager.

The Record: How did you decide to do an Indian remix of your song 'Powerless'?
Nelly: Well Iíve already done Indian remixes in the past. In particular I had an Iím Like A Bird remix and I really liked that a lot. And Josh (the Indian band who did the remix), are Canadian - theyíre from Montreal actually. Right away, they did the track and I loved it. I thought it had a great beat and it gets a lot of play on hip hop stations here. It has a lot of hip hop energy to it. I love it and I might do some more stuff with Josh. Their whole album is pretty cool actually. I listen to it in my car and it has good songs.

TR: The first four lines in 'Powerless' really stand out Ė is that a reference to any particular incident?
Nelly: I think itís a reference to life and the world we live in. A lot of things are controlled by subtle messages that start to tap into the subconscious after a while. Itís about the way you live your life, your identity, sense of strength and power in life. And itís kind of a reminder Ė I think itís a youthful song - reminding people that they donít have to choose either a fun, party lifestyle or a bookworm, serious, political existence. There can be a middle ground. You can have fun with life and for me caring about the world is youthful, you know what I mean? And it can be a celebration, it can be really joyful and so I guess thatís what 'Powerless' is about.

TR: I read that you learned to sing in Hindi. How did that happen?
Nelly: Yeah itís kind of funny because some people think I speak Hindi and I donít speak Hindi, if I did I would be trying to speak some right now [laughs] but I do sing a couple of songs. In Canada itís such a multi-cultural country and I grew up with a lot of Asian and Indian friends speaking Punjabi and Hindi. And I grew up watching a lot of bhangra, Bollywood, religious music and we even had it on television on Saturdays. Actually sometimes while I would clean hotel rooms. [Laughs] basically my friends invited me to sing at their Indian cultural festival when I was about 18 years old and my friendís father said I should sing in Hindi and I really liked it. I learnt Kabhi Kabhi and I really like Lata Mangeshkar and of course Asha Bhosle who I did a little collaboration with. Iím really intrigued, Iíve always loved Indian music and always felt this connection to it, I donít know why.

TR: It would be cool to see you in India doing some music.
Nelly: I would love to! I think itís not too far in the future. My daughter Nevis is actually a quarter East Indian so I have family there now.

TR: Do you play your music for your daughter?
Nelly: Yeah she loves music! She knows the whole album and she really likes 'Powerless' and 'Try'. It makes her really quiet. [Laughs] The other day I was driving and she was crying in the backseat and I started singing 'Powerless' and then 'Try' and then she was very quiet.

TR: What was the biggest challenge while making Folklore?
Nelly: Well, I was pretty pregnant when I made the album actually and that helped me. It put me in a pretty good place for song writing. I was very reflective. Though itís harder to sing some of the high notes with this big belly! [Laughs]
I think the most challenging thing was being real, just being vulnerable in the lyrics. Iíve got a love song on there that I actually put off singing for a couple of weeks. I would just mumble the melody as I was too shy to sing the real lyrics and then my producer one day said ĎHey! Are you going to sing the lyrics?í [Laughs] I got over some fears I think about really singing from the heart and really emoting the lyrics, so that was good. The song 'Try' was hard for me to sing because itís so real and also 'Childhood Dreams' which I probably will never sing live. [Laughs]

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Nelly Furtado in the August 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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