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If You Only Knew: Nelly Furtado

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Nelly Furtado on artistry, empathy, & her five-year hiatus

Larry King NowMar 24 '17

She’s back! Grammy winner and platinum-selling musician Nelly Furtado opens up about her much-needed break from the spotlight, her relationship with her old hits, and what to expect from her new album, ‘The Ride.’

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Grammy-winning, multi-platinum singer and songwriter Nelly Furtado emerges after 5 years without an album to talk to Larry King and promote her new album, ‘The Ride,’ out on March 31. Furtado, who has sold more than 16 million albums worldwide, took playwriting, sewing, and ceramics classes, developed other artists through her label, and worked at a friend’s record store in the years since her last album. She explains to Larry that she’s a sensitive girl who writes her own songs as a way to stay healthy and express her latent emotionality. Having spent 17 years and counting in the music industry, she describes it as fun but with pressures, and felt she had to reconnect with her inner hippie girl.

In ‘The Ride,’ her music is alternative pop with confessional songs. Larry asks Furtado if she has experienced lots of sadness and disappointments. She has, and compares a song in her album about tap dancing to how entertainers tap dance throughout their offstage lives, obscuring their personal selves. Furtado’s own life has been marked by early success, since she won a Grammy at age 22. Larry asks if it was good to be successful early, and Furtado says that while her wildest dreams came true, she also had to ask, now what? She talks about her past tours and albums, and how she still sings some of her old hits like ‘Promiscuous,’ but that “some songs become bigger than you, they’re just for the people.”

Speaking about her personhood, Furtado admits she unconsciously reinvents and saves herself through songs, such as ‘Phoenix’ on her album. When writing, she didn’t realize the refrain “you’re gonna be all right” described a difficult situation she was experiencing. Exploring her experiences, Larry asks if the musical landscape has changed since Furtado started. Yes, she says, though she owns her new album and has more freedom when streaming her songs. Reminiscing on her early experiences, Furtado confirms she used to clean motel rooms, since her mother worked in housekeeping, and says she simultaneously wrote songs. She likes writing more than performing, and describes writing songs in Kenya while on a trip for a nonprofit.

Larry then asks Furtado about her quote supporting a “gender-less future,” and she talks about a collaborative art installation she did at the MoMA PS1, where she wrote songs with 80 strangers in 3 hours. The experience, she says, proves there is empathy between people, and that matters of the heart are transcendent, beyond political divides. Larry asks her what her view of Trump from Canada is, and Furtado comments she wants people with different views to get along. She likes living in the gray area, and believes being on the fence politically is an athletic activity.