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Nelly Furtado Reinvented, Reinvigorated

Of the Oakland Press

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A year after releasing her latest album, “Loose,” Nelly Furtado has decided that “I reinvented myself without even noticing.” She may be the only one, however. “Loose,” the Canadian songstress’ third album, takes wing from the sweetly polished pop sound of her first two albums, 2000’s “Whoa, Nelly!” and 2003’s “Folklore.” In its place Furtado gets her freak on with hip-hop beats, sexy lyrics and collaborations with noted rap producer Timbaland and up-and-coming Virginia MC Attitude.

The gamble certainly worked. “Loose” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in June 2006 and has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. It’s been certified gold or platinum in 27 other countries, won five Canadian Juno Awards and launched the hits “Promiscuous,” “Maneater,” “Say It Right,” “All Good Things (Come to an End)” and “In God’s Hands.”

“I’ve really managed to make a lot of my dreams come true this year,” says Furtado, 28, who was born in British Columbia to Azorian immigrants and has been singing since she was 4 years old. “I’ve really achieved a lot of my personal goals. I really wanted to do a more simple album and the sort of album where the songs are just really great and everybody sings along.

“I guess I had that with the first two albums, but this was just a whole other level. I’ve reached a whole new level of comfort and ease as a performing that I didn’t have before.”

What Furtado credits for that is a bit surprising, however — Nevis, her 3-year-old daughter with exboyfriend DJ Jasper Gahunia.

“I think that motherhood reinvented me,” she says. “Having this great toddler to chase around really keeps you on your toes and makes you feel re-energized and youthful.

“People ask me all the time, like, ‘Oh, wow, usually when people have babies they get sort of more matronly.’ I guess for me it wasn’t that sort of experience. It was more ... reinvigorating.”

The revitalized Furtado — who declares that “I’m a big girl/I can handle myself” on “Promiscuous” — also found her inner booty doing “Loose.” She’s showing a more skin, swinging her hips a bit more provocatively — in short, giving us a different look than the troubadour who trilled “I’m Like a Bird” seven years ago.

“I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I don’t mind being ogled as much as I did before,” she notes with a giggle.

More importantly, Furtado says she has the confidence to justify that kind of attention.

“I think I very much considered myself a sort of clubby, alternative performer when I first came out,” explains Furtado, whose show now includes a full, Miami-inspired stage set, four dancers and costume changes.

“I never felt like I had the right material for those large gigs. It’s great people accepted me and I got to do those great gigs like opening for U2 at Slane Castle or whatever, but now I feel like I’ve got the material to really rock out a little bit more.”

With “Loose” nearing its one-year anniversary, however, Furtado is starting to think about what she wants to do next, although she still hopes to pop another single or two off the album. She definitely plans to surprise again — including possibly launching “a real rock band with Timbaland. She’s also started work on an album that will be sung in Spanish and Portuguese.

And with recent roles on “CSI: NY” and the soap opera “One Life to Live,” as well as drama classes, acting is becoming more of an option than it has been before.

Mostly, however, Furtado is looking forward to a break.

“Time off is when I get ideas,” she says. “I sit around, and then ideas come. So I’ve just got to wait and see what happens and not rush to do anything until it feels right.”

Nelly Furtado and Kenna perform 8 p.m. Monday (June 11th) at the Detroit Opera House, 1526 Broadway, Detroit. Tickets are $49.50. Call (313) 237-7464 or visit www.motopera.org.

Web Site: www.motopera.org

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