Nelly Kim Furtado was born in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, a decade after her Portuguese parents, António José Furtado and Maria Manuela Furtado, immigrated 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.
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