The daughter of Portuguese parents (who emigrated to Canada in the late Sixties), she made her breakthrough with the single I’m Like A Bird in 2000, and her genre-hopping debut album Whoa, Nelly! sold seven million copies. Now 30, she lives in Toronto with her husband and six-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. Her latest album, Mi Plan, is sung entirely in Spanish.
Britain rules the world.
I adore all things British. I can’t get enough of shopping for vintage clothes on Portobello Road and I love eating fish and chips in Liverpool. The best thing I’ve ever tasted was mango chutney from a Kensington market. Also, the British media make up the best stories about me; they always make me sound a lot more exciting than I really am. I read in one paper that at a music awards show in Copenhagen I was presented with a toilet that had an aquarium in the cistern. Totally untrue, sadly.
I was inconsolable when Oasis split up.
That band meant the world to me. As a 16-year-old I would write letters to Liam with my photo attached and pray that he would ask me out on a date, but he never did. At college I learned to play guitar to Wonderwall. Oasis were everything I loved about pop music. They could express emotions with the most simple song structures. They had the kind of brash attitude I could completely relate to.
When I meet Ronaldo I’ll tell him to stop diving.
After singing the anthem for Euro 2004 I’ve become a massive football fan. I adore Ronaldo because he plays with so much natural fire and passion. It’s like watching an incredible dancer. His movement on the ball is breathtaking. But he has to stop diving.
Fame took me by surprise and I ended up having a breakdown.
It was too much too soon. After two years of intense touring and partying I’d spend hours alone in my LA home, just staring at the floor. I felt like a fraud, believing that people liked me for my image and not my music.
I once turned down $500,000 to pose naked for Playboy.
The magazine was even prepared to pay me $500,000 to pose with my clothes on. I didn’t want Playboy on my resume at the age of 22. If they ask me when I’m 40 I’ll probably say yes.
It’s important to fail in order to evolve.
I wouldn’t say my second album was a failure but, commercially, it wasn’t as good as my first [it sold less than two million copies]. That was the best thing that could have happened to me. It meant that everything slowed down and I was finally able to take stock of my life.
You know you’re in the presence of genius when you’re in a room with Timbaland.
We worked together on my Loose album and we’re currently working on a new one too. Of all the great talents I’ve worked with, he’s got the genius touch. The man is a snake-charmer. He knows exactly how to draw the best out of someone. And like everyone touched with genius, he has a touch of madness about him, too.
I’ve always been obsessive-compulsive.
As a kid I had the whole don’t-step-on-the-pavement-cracks thing going on. I was an awkward, paranoid child.
There are times when I long to be a hermit living in a cottage.
I often crave that sort of solitude. But having a husband and a daughter tends to get in the way of that…
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