From the ashes of of teen pop rises Nelly Furtado with her fresh take on music. On her latest album "Folklore," the Canadian singer spreads a message of tolerance and diversity with empowering lyrics and exotic rhythms.
Furtado, 25, describes herself as a "spunky girl" who does not fit a mold. And it's important to her to connect all kinds of people, including gays, to her unique brand of genre-crossing music.
Though involved with a man and raising a newborn these days, she says she has been attracted to women in the past. "Women are gorgeous," she says. 'They are the sexiest."
After the success of her debut album "Whoa Nelly!" Furtado decided to take a long break. In 2002, "Whoa Nelly!" garnered Furtado a Grammy for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance."
"Two days after the Grammy Awards, I felt this need to settle down and have a family," she said, from her home in Toronto. "I guess I was looking for some balance in my life."
She found true love with musician Lil' Jaz and in September the couple welcomed a baby daughter. In November, she released her much-anticipated second album, "Folklore."
The album is a well-rounded kaleidoscope of world beats, music styles and instruments that (oddly enough) fit well under Furtado’s innovative direction. The singer wrote and co-produced the majority of the songs on the CD with longtime collaborators Track and Field (Brian West and Gerald Eaton).
Furtado, who was born in British Columbia, says "Folklore" is inspired by culture, love, fresh energy and other sentiments often associated with folk music.
On "Folklore," she combines musical diversity with a message of tolerance.
"My music has a message of diversity and open-mindedness," she says. "It reflects many identities, whether it is cultural, racial, musical or sexual. It's genderless. Guys, girls, gay and straight, love my music."
Furtado says her lyrics seem to have appeal for many young gays grappling with coming out. "Many fans have written me [about] how my music has helped them to accept who they are,” she says.
"Folklore" is a departure from the quirky, youthful exuberance she demonstrated on "Whoa Nelly!" Besides the happy-go-lucky “Fresh Off The Boat” and energetic “Forca” the singer explores darker sentiments on her latest CD.
She has matured emotionally, which has given her additional confidence, as a vocalist and a songwriter. "The music business can mature you at a rapid pace," Furtado says. "Of course, being pregnant and in love has also grounded me."
The song “Explode” is a haunting track that deals with teenage angst, rape and drugs.
On the poignant “One Trick Pony,” Furtado depicts a healthy dose of attitude when she sings, "Nobody can control me."
The single "Powerless (Say What You Want)" features the famous Kronos Quartet, and deals with the pressure on the star to conform in the music industry.
On the lullaby "Childhood Dreams," Furtado mixes authentic church organs and Indian tablas. Equally refreshing is her unlikely duet with Brazilian legend Caetano Veloso on the breezy "Island of Wonder."
Despite the CD’s modest Billboard chart entry at number 38, Furtado is confident that the album will find its audience.
"I think this record will be around for a while," she says. "My first record only sold 6,000 copies in the first week, so I’m not complaining now."