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Nelly Furtado
Nelly Furtado is so different from the norm that she can't help but stand out in a crowd. Her fresh, updated spin on pop music has made her one of the most popular mainstream artists of this decade. With her sunny, good-time rockers and world-weary ballads, she is a radio-staple and perennial favourite at Grammy time. The multi-platinum success of her debut was unexpected, and itís had lasting impact. On her latest release Loose she has re-invented herself as an R&B artist. Sheís not only kept pace with contemporary trends but sometimes even pushes the envelope to define whatís hip and whatís not. When the dust settles, she may stand out as one of the most important and influential female recording artists of this century.

Her Place On The Fame Scoreboard
With music these days seeming like an endless parade of glossy drones, Nelly Furtado was bound to catch our attention. A globe trotting beat junkie with talent to spare, she emerged as the anti-Britney Spears with her daring sophomore album (2000ís Whoa Nelly) and conquered the charts worldwide. The album sold millions and made numerous best-of lists for the year; single Iím Like A Bird was catchy and radio stations overplayed it like she was the second coming of Celine Dion. Her combination of folk, pop and hip-hop made her an instant standout as an artist to watch. She even became an icon to teenage girls, after single Turn Off The Light became a girl power anthem.

But her moment was yet to come. She earned four Grammy nods at the 2002 Grammy Awards, and come the big night, won the coveted little golden gramophone for Best Female Pop Vocal. Her face quickly became as familiar as her voice. She was featured in Rolling Stone and countless other magazines, and more importantly won a slew of other awards. Since then, her songs have been featured in hit movie soundtracks, appeared high profile ad campaigns, and built her a dedicated fan following among artists like Elton John and Lionel Richie. Her dense, varied, post-modernist eponymous second album ~ Folklore (2003) ~ illustrated that Furtado was no one-album wonder, and on her latest release she shows no signs of relinquishing her hard-won success anytime this millennium.

Why Everyone Loves Her
She's an all-around accomplished woman who comes across as sweet and tender on the one hand, and strong and somewhat feisty on the other. To put it bluntly, she's the only reason we tune into music channels these days. She is also one of the nicest people you could ever meet...or so weíve heard. The fact that she was a struggling singer for so long keeps her grounded and personable. Furtado's working-class parents instilled a strong work ethic during her upbringing; sheís openly talked about the eight summers she worked as a chambermaid with her housekeeping mother.

She seems to have maintained her approachable personality throughout her music career; itís said that she is always pleasantly surprised expression when people compliment her or fans approach her. She considers herself very lucky to have a family, fame and fortune. Thatís an A+ personality for an A+ woman. Fiercely independent, her work steadfastly has resisted the whims of both mainstream audiences and the male-dominated recording industry. Taking public stances on social matters, sheís been criticized for singing songs about sex and God in her music, but Furtado seems undisturbed. After all, she rationalizes that these issues co-exist in today's society anyway. We give her full marks for her honesty and humble nature.

Loose ~ The New Album
Throughout her career, Nelly Furtado has been at her best when she throws caution to the wind and simply lets her instincts guide her music. In an effort to recapture the immediacy of her best efforts, her latest album Loose was done on the fly in Miami, and the plan worked out mighty well. The rap and hip-hop infused sound took direction after Furtado met with top producer Timbaland in Miami last year during a recording session that was expected to produce two songs. But drawing inspiration from the collaboration with Timbaland, the city and the other artists recording at the Hit Factory studio, she instead emerged with 10 tracks that make up most of the new CD.

The result is a disc unlike anything sheís ever done before. Three lead singles have been released already in different parts of the world. The hip-hop laden Promiscuous (which features Timbaland) is a hit on US radio, the reggae influenced No Hay Igual is being played non-stop in Latin America, and pop ditty Maneater just went to #1 on the UK charts, where football fever is in full swing. Despite Englandís first game victory in the ongoing World Cup, the 27-year-old beat stiff competition from all the football anthems doing the rounds. Furtado was given many gifts at birth, but guile wasn't one of them. On the occasion of her new album, she sat down for an interview and let her heart do the talking.

Itís been almost three years since your last release. What took you so long?
Nelly Furtado: Every time I make an album, I say to myself, ĎThis is the last. Iím never going to make another one.í Then I get the bug and I make music that excites me and I start it all up again. (Laughs) This album wouldn't have existed if I werenít a mother. Being a mother has changed everything for me...it's been a coming of age thing for me...coming into my womanhood. It's given me a sensitivity to world that I didn't have before and it's taken away a lot of my ego. Iíve become a lot less self-conscious. (Laughs again)

The new album is quite a change of direction for youÖ
NF: Iím now a completely different person. I look back and almost don't recognize the old me! (Laughs) Pop music Iíve made in the past has been very pristine sounding...very polished...very clean cut. I think in a lot of ways this is a departure from that. I grew up listening to hip-hop and R&B but when it came to my own music, I kind of put that on a shelf. With this record, though, I knew I wanted to have that sound. Itís pop music but it has a lot of aggressive energy to it, which I think is great.

Loose is a catchy title. Whatís that all about?
NF: Itís kind of a portrayal of meÖthis album shows me letting go in so many ways: me letting go as a musician, an artist and a person. I really show my sensual side...I show myself as a woman and that Iím a living, breathing woman just like any other.

You put this across as being a really sexually assertive recordÖ
NF: Itís really sexually assertive in the way TLC used to be. It's so of the body, it's of the flesh...it's about dancing. Itís about love, lovemaking, sensuality of the senses...the joy of just living, you know. Itís true that a lot of this record is about physical attraction, but thereís also a naive, almost childlike quality about it. Nothing puts you back into your place like having a child.

Your single Maneater just went to #1 on the UK charts. That must have felt good.
NF: When we wrote Maneater, we were writing with this really loud volume in the studio, and it was like this voodoo energy coming up all around us. Iíve never felt anything like it; it was so intense. The volume was turned up to 11, and all of a sudden I started to smell smoke. I looked at the speaker and there were flames shooting out of it and we were likeÖWhoa! We were so scared of the track that we put it away and didnít touch it for two weeks. (Laughs) The reason why itís so evocative is because it's driven by sexual energy. It truly has a life of its own; it makes you move.


You can read the rest of our cover story on Nelly Furtado in the June 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

Ronan Keating
Paul Oakenfold
Gnarls Barkley
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Taxiride
The Divine Comedy
Dixie Chicks
Duncan James
Train
Flipsyde
Call
Getting Started: The Violin
Then And Now: Kenny Rogers
DJ Speak: DJ Rummy
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