Nelly Kim Furtado was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, a decade after her Portuguese parents, António José Furtado and Maria Manuela Furtado, emigrated to Canada in the late 1960s.
She was named after Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim.
Nelly was surrounded by music, and she started writing songs at age 12. It was Nelstar, the trip-hop duo that she formed in 1995 with rapper Tallis Newkirk, that established her unique medley of pop, hip-hop, and R&B.
Nelly Furtado turned down a role in the 2002 comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a decision she later came to regret. In a Facebook Live chat for ET Canada, she revealed:
"I was supposed to be in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. That was a fail. I was supposed to be one of the sisters or something. I'm Portuguese and I can pass as Greek. I must have been really busy or something. I don't know what happened! You never know what's what. I don't think I ever read the script."
Despite starring in hit TV shows such as 90210 and CSI: NY, Nelly Furtado finds acting challenging. She explained: "I've done a few films, a few TV shows. It was fun but actually really hard. I find it very difficult. I don't know if I find I'm very natural at it."
Nelly Furtado once turned down $500,000 to pose fully clothed in Playboy.
Nelly gave birth to her daughter, Nevis on September 20, 2003, The child's father is the singer's then boyfriend Jasper Gahunias. The couple broke up in 2005.
She married sound engineer Demacio Castellon in 2008, but they split in the summer of 2016.
Nelly took some time out between her 2012 The Spirit Indestructible album and her The Ride LP five years later. During this period out of the spotlight she worked at her daughter's school library sorting books, took playwriting and ceramics classes and helped out at a friend's record store. Speaking on the UK television program Loose Woman Furtado explained that she was craving real life experiences after the success of her first few albums.
"Touring on the road with my daughter became really tiring and I just craved to be home," she stated. "Being a mother, on the road, and managing a relationship while making music (was hard). Although I like to be on stage, I'm actually shy too and I need my quiet time. It's all about self-care, we kind of have to find that balance in our lives."