Over Nelly Furtado
Although she grew up in Canada, Nelly Furtado's parents were Portuguese immigrants, and she was raised surrounded by the rhythms of traditional Portuguese music. Still drawn to the beat years later, Furtado gravitated toward the popular rap and contemporary R&B groups of the day. Like many teenagers, she used music not only as a means of escape, but also as a way to fan the flames of her dreams. After graduating from high school, Furtado headed to Toronto, where she formed the hip-hop duo Nelster. Still working a day job, Furtado haunted clubs at night, until being spotted by Brian West and Gerald Eaton of the Philosopher Kings. The pair produced a demo that landed the chanteuse her deal with Dreamworks, and continued to turn the knobs on Furtado's 2000 debut, Whoa, Nelly!. Three years later, she issued the more reflective album, Folklore. Three years after that (and after giving birth to her daughter), Furtado took off in a completely different direction with Loose, a collection of sleek, sexy, hip-hop-infused dance pop (much of it, including the huge hit "Promiscuous," produced by Timbaland) aimed at conquering the top 40 -- which she certainly did. Another three years went by and it was time for -- you guessed it -- another new direction, this time with Mi Plan, a collection of Spanish-language pop.