Nelly FurtadoFurtado was born on December 2, 1978, in the city of Victoria, British Columbia to Portuguese parents, Maria Manuela and António José Furtado, both immigrants from Portugal's Azores archipelago. Her parents were born on São Miguel Island and immigrated to Canada in the late 1960s. Her siblings are Michael Anthony and Lisa Anne. Furtado has a strong connection with Portuguese culture. At age four she began performing and singing in Portuguese.
She was named after Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim. Raised in a Roman Catholic home, Furtado first sang at the age of four when she performed a duet with her mother at a church on Portugal Day. Although remaining unclear about her religious beliefs, she still affirms a belief in God, the Ten Commandments, and in avoiding the Seven Sins. She began playing instruments at the age of nine, learning the saxophone, cello, 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.