Can you believe it’s been 10 years since Nelly Furtado burst onto the scene with “I’m Like a Bird?” 10 years ago most of us were like, still in pre-school, but we still loved Nelly’s catchy music, bold personality, and, most importantly, that she’s not afraid to be herself. She’s just released her greatest hits album, and is all-the-more that down-to-earth gURL who doesn’t care what people think about her.
We interviewed Nelly about growing up with a smelly lunchbox, taking chances with her music, and why she can totally relate to her gay and lesbian fans. Read on!
Love “Promiscuous.” Did you see that song as really risqué at the time?
It’s definitely kinda risque but I feel like you need to look at your whole body of work and this is just one song on my whole repertoire. When I recorded it I was in Miami and I was feeling pretty carefree and it was more about the flow and the hip hop nature of the song. But I always tell people that I think I’m musically promiscuous, so it fits that way. I’ve tried every single musical style. I’m going out at it musically with a bunch of different artists!
When you were younger, did you ever feel different from other kids because you’re Portuguese?
Growing up I don’t remember seeing Portuguese people on television or in magazines -only in my church community and performing at different cultural events. I wanted that to change. I wanted to celebrate my eclecticism and ethnicity since my parents raised us to embrace my culture. When you’re a kid at school you might be bringing something in your lunch box that other kids think smells funny or looks different, but that’s OK.
You’re also very involved in the LGBT community. What advice do you give to LGBT gURLs who may have problems coming out?
I think I’ve connected with my gay audience right from the get-go because I feel like the theme of that album [Whoa, Nelly!] was about fierce individuality and expressing yourself at all costs and I remember playing a song, “S*** on the Radio,” which is about staying true to yourself even when that’s difficult. I used to see gay couples in the audience bawling and holding hands and hugging each other. I guess I would say to remember that you’re not the only one even though sometimes you might feel like you’re all alone – but you’re really not. You have to put it in perspective.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
The best advice I’ve been given is when I was 17, I was living in this apartment and downloading music and my landlady at the time was like, “You have a talent, you need to use it. You need to look out for yourself because no one else will do it for you.”