Canadian singer Nelly Furtado first burst onto the pop music scene back in 2000 with her debut album, Whoa Nelly!. The critically acclaimed, trip-hop-influenced record produced two top-ten singles—”I’m Like a Bird” and “Turn Off the Light”—and won the newcomer a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Furtado continued to hit it big with her follow-up albums (her third record, 2006’s Loose, sold more than 10 million copies worldwide and became her bestselling album to date). But in recent years, the songstress has been mostly MIA. So what happened to Nelly Furtado? Here’s a look at what the “Promiscuous” singer has been doing.
A 2006 Onstage Breakdown Led Her To Step Back From Music
Nelly learned early on just how overwhelming the life of a pop star can be. In 2006, when she was at the height of her success, she suffered a breakdown while on tour for her album, Loose. The singer had been traveling non-stop with her young daughter in tow and ended up reaching her breaking point one night while she was performing.
“I was on the Loose tour and my daughter was with me—I was being a mum and a singer on the road. I was exhausted,” the “Say It Right” singer explained in an interview with the Daily Mail. “Then one night I went on stage and I suddenly realized how stressed-out I was. I actually cried my way through the first two songs.”
That experience prompted Furtado to step away from the spotlight and focus on caring for herself and her family. “I took a break from music and went home,” she said. “And I realized that being at home and having the whole family experience was what I was seeking.”
What Has She Been Up To Since Then?
She Took Time To Focus On Her Family
During her hiatus from performing, Furtado concentrated on being a full-time mom, which was something her demanding career had made impossible. “My life was pretty much on fast-forward from the age of 20,” she said in a 2017 interview with Refinery29.com. “I signed my first record deal, and then it was constant juggling of my work and my home life. I became a mother at quite a young age, I was 25.”
In addition to spending as much time as she could with her daughter, Furtado involved herself in simple activities of daily life. “I started taking ceramics classes and playwriting classes at the local university,” she told Refinery29.com. “Working at my daughter’s school library sorting books, and working the till at my friend’s record store. All those things help me remember who I was.”
Furtado also found love during her break from work, marrying sound engineer Demacio Castellon in 2008. The couple was together for eight years but divorced in 2016. In 2021, Furtado revealed in her Instagram bio that she had had two more kids, writing that she was now a “mother of 3 beautiful children, ages 18, 4, and 3.”
Fortunately, Nelly’s break from music was not permanent. In 2009, she released her fourth album, Mi Plan. Put out independently by Furtado’s own record label, Nelstar Entertainment, it was the singer’s first all-Spanish-language album. It was well-received by both fans and critics and won a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album in 2010.
Unfortunately, her next two albums were less successful than her previous efforts. The Spirit Indestructible, which was released in 2012, debuted at number 79 on the US Billboard charts and sold just 6,000 copies in its first week. (In comparison, Loose debuted at number one and sold 219,000 in its first week of release). And 2017’s The Ride, Furtado’s second independent release after Mi Plan, did not make it onto the US Billboard charts at all and sold just 1,814 copies in its first week of release.
Fortunately, the down-to-earth singer took the albums’ lackluster performances in stride. “I’ve had kind of everything happen to me commercially and at different levels,” she told Huffington Post Canada. “I’ve had different scenes and I’ve dabbled in a lot of markets so I see the music world as very global and I’m always looking for new avenues and opportunities, so one chart or anything doesn’t necessarily [mean anything].”
She Recently Released Expanded Editions Of Her Most Successful Albums
Most recently, the “I’m Like a Bird” singer has been revisiting the success of her earlier years. In 2020, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Whoa Nelly!, Furtado released an expanded edition of the album that featured 22 tracks. In 2021, she released an expanded edition of Loose, which featured a total of 32 tracks and coincided with the 15th anniversary of the album’s original release.