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She’s a woman of intense mystery, alluring juxtapositions and let’s not forget - a Grammy Award winner. She even writes her own songs and she's able to sing in English, Portuguese and Hindi last time we checked. Her tunes are catchy and perfect for that moment when your car magically runs out of gas. For all the make out music she has provided for teenage boys and young adults everywhere, we salute her.

And she is a beautiful girl - it doesn't take much of a genius to realize that. Her skillful naughtiness plays right into the hands of men everywhere who say they want a nice girl, but really want a woman who will whip them into submission - or is it the other way around? Like her music or not, you'll appreciate that she’s a refreshing break from Britney Spears and the Jennifer Lopez sound alikes. Her name…Nelly Furtado.

Born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, to parents of Portuguese descent, Nelly Furtado was literally surrounded by music while growing up. As a 4 year old, Nelly Furtado used to hide behind the living room couch, listening to her mother practice Portuguese hymns with friends in the church choir. While growing up she would also raid her father's record collection to hear Blondie, Led Zeppelin, ABBA and Billy Joel albums. She'd sing Joel's songs over and over. So this girl learned the spirit of musical eclecticism at an early age. At school, she was hopeless at math but an overachiever in English and the arts. She was also such a loner that her kindergarten teacher once told Mrs. Furtado that she was concerned because Nelly didn't talk to anybody.

But at home it was a different scene all together. Her father sang as a pastime, her grandfather played instruments, and even her great-uncle was a renowned Portuguese marching band score composer, and the young girl would join in with the fun. And with all of these family elements around, she knew early on in her childhood that she wanted to be a performer, and that was the beginning of the road to her success. For soon the young girl was playing the ukulele and singing in Portuguese and English, and was the trombone player of a jazz band, concert band and marching band, from nine to eighteen. Her receiving a tape recorder and microphone when she was eight years old also served as a key part of her musical influences. She obsessed over Billy Joel's Glass Houses, and when she got her first tape recorder, she tried to sample the sound of breaking glass she'd heard over and over again on that LP.

And she grew up with a great outlook on life, for Furtado's working-class parents instilled a hardcore work ethic during her upbringing. She spent eight summers working as a chambermaid with her housekeeping mother, quickly realizing what it meant to honestly make a living. Exposed to the rush of new hip-hop acts spawning in the early '90s, Nelly became fascinated by the sounds of TLC, Bel Biv Devoe, Ice-T, Mariah Carey, and the new sampling methods used at the time. With the help of her tape recorder, Nelly would sample the sounds that impressed her, similar to those used by popular '90s acts. She sang into her microphone and recorded original sounds with the "scratch effect" of her keyboard.

You can read the rest of our cover story on Nelly Furtado in the June 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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