Why Nelly Furtado Disappeared

Nelly Furtado emerged on the music scene and released a few critically acclaimed hits, such as 2001's "I'm Like a Bird" and "Turn Off the Light" from her 2000 album, Whoa, Nelly! When she teamed up with music producer extraordinaire Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley in 2006, they created a musical goldmine with the release of her album, Loose. The Portuguese-Canadian singer put the world into a trance as she seamlessly infused her adoration for folk-pop with Timbaland's futuristic R&B beats. It was official: Furtado had taken the world by storm.

The Grammy-winner was well on her way to becoming a prominent fixture in the entertainment industry ... or so we thought. In the blink of an eye, she seemingly disappeared from every magazine cover and slammed the brakes on her "Get Loose" tour. So what happened? 

Furtado endured a series of personal struggles that sent her life into a downward spiral. Here's the real reason you don't hear from her anymore.

She had a nervous breakdown

Nelly Furtado was 20 years old when "I'm Like a Bird" swept the globe. The track earned her a Grammy award for best female pop vocal and the song stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for an impressive 24 weeks. Being so young meant Furtado had to grow up quickly to shoulder the many responsibilities pertaining to her career, and things got even trickier when she gave birth to her daughter, Nevis, split from her baby daddy, and decided to embark on her 2007 tour as a single mom.

The pressures of being in the limelight eventually caught up to Furtado. "I had a nervous breakdown on stage. 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. 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," she told the Daily Mail.

She decided it was time to take a break from touring and returned home to focus on her family. She later told the Daily Mail, "I'd spend hours alone in my LA home, just staring at the floor. I felt like a fraud, believing that people liked me for my image and not my music."

She longs to be a hermit

Living in the digital age means there are a slew of social media platforms that many celebrities use to stay connected with their fans. Furtado prefers a more old-school approach to superstardom, but she begrudgingly left the Stone Age behind with some help from her ex-husband's much younger brothers. 

"They are the ones who signed me up to Twitter and get me listening to new things. You have to stay engaged –- everyone's grandmother has a Facebook page these days," she told the Daily Mail.

Furtado now has an Instagram account, too, but if it were left up to her, she's probably cleanup her online footprint and completely fade into obscurity for longer periods of time. In a separate interview with the Daily Mail she admitted, "There are times when I long to be a hermit living in a cottage. I often crave that sort of solitude."

Her divorce took a toll

Nelly Furtado began dating sound engineer Demacio Castellon after they worked together on her 2006 album, Loose. She called him her "secret boyfriend" in a 2007 interview with Blender (via People) and justified their low-key relationship by saying, "I just don't really talk about it. It's nobody famous or anything." 

The couple kept their undercover relationship going strong for a stretch. Furtado even waited a few months before sharing the news of their 2008 nuptials with Entertainment Tonight Canada (via People). 

As secretive as her wedding was, her divorce from Castellon was even more hush-hush. While speaking with the ladies of the Loose Women broadcast, Furtado shocked her fans when she revealed, "I am single now ... Someone here needs to update my Wikipedia — it's not helping my dating life!"

Although she appeared to be optimistic about her solo status, Furtado admitted that the breakdown of her marriage was followed by hard times. Before going their separate ways in the summer of 2016, the singer said she went through "an emotionally difficult time" and found solace in writing songs. "I would sing to myself while I drove on these long drives and I thought to myself, 'I'm so lucky that I can write songs because I can soothe myself with them,'" she said.

She just wants to bake muffins

After suffering her debilitating breakdown, Nelly Furtado retreated from the public eye and put all of her focus into raising her co-parenting her daughter with her ex-boyfriend Jasper "Lil' Jaz" Gahunia.

She told ITV's Loose Women"It's great to have your career take off and have those blessings, but if you don't have that time, when you give and give, you crash," she said. "I need to stay mentally, emotionally and physically well for my daughter."

Furtado said touring "became really tiring" and she "just craved to be home." When asked to recall that tumultuous period in her past, the singer said she sometimes longed to reclaim her pre-fame lifestyle. "Sometimes you just want to sit at home and back some muffins for your daughter."

So, during her hiatus, she basically went from "Maneater" to muffin eater. (Sorry, we had to go there.)

She worked odd jobs

After the 2012 release of her album The Spirit Indestructible, Furtado took a five-year break to find herself again and to explore her creativity. 

"I started taking ceramics classes and playwriting classes at the local university," she told Refinery29. But that wasn't all. She also took some time "working at my daughter's school library sorting books." It was this string of odd jobs and hobbies that actually helped her life come full circle. "All those things help me remember who I was," she said.

After reclaiming her identity, Furtado jumped back into the studio to craft her 2017 album, The Ride. "This album is all realizations," she said. "I didn't wanna be surrounded by bulls**t anymore; I want to demand truth from the people around me and from myself. It's about dreams not always matching up to reality and coming out of the other side."

Craving normalcy and scrubbing toilets

Being on the road and in front of the spotlight sounds like a dream for most artists. However, Furtado grew restless with the hustle and bustle that went along with being one of the top acts in the music industry. She'd obtained the type of success most people aspire to, but in the end, all she craved was a life of normalcy.

While speaking with GQ, Furtado revealed that when she left the music world behind, she started doing her own chores. Those common household duties were surprisingly fulfilling to her. "I wanted to clean my own bathroom again and wash my own laundry again. I really missed normal life," she said.

To most, cleaning toilets sounds like anything but relaxing, and Furtado is well aware of how that must look from the outside looking in. "It really helped me, honestly," she said. "It sounds silly but it kind of saved me," she said.

Did she burn bridges?

When Nelly Furtado teamed up with producer Timbaland, the world wasn't ready for her distinctive vocals to be combined with his signature electronic-inspired beats. The resulting album, Loose, sold 219,000 copies during its debut week, thanks to hits such as "Promiscuous" and "Say it Right."

The two went on to collab on various tracks following Loose's debut, including his 2007 song "Give it to Me," which also featured Justin TimberlakeFurtado sings on the chorus: "If you see us in the club, we'll be acting real nice / If you see us on the floor, you'll be watchin' all night." Sounds pretty harmless, right? 

Well, that song hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2007, but despite the track's success, Furtado has made it no secret that she regrets the project. "I've had good instincts when it comes to my music. Maybe I wish Justin, Timbaland and I hadn't put out that dis [sic] song "Give it to Me," she told Metro. "It was like the first ever pop dis [sic] song — a genre usually reserved for rap. We put a lot of negative energy out into the world."

Perhaps bashing the producer who engineered her biggest hits was a bad idea. Following her remarks, Furtado struggled to recreate the success she experienced with Timbaland's golden touch. (More on that in a minute.)

She was busy stocking shelves

Once Furtado realized she could no longer continue living her life in the spotlight, she made the choice to put the kibosh on her music career. Although she wasn't in the booth recording new songs, she didn't stray too far from her passion.

Furtado began stocking shelves at a friend's record store, reported GQ, and the mundane job actually helped her get centered and recharged. It wasn't long before the pangs to create her own music struck again, and Furtado ditched her record store gig to team up with producer John Congleton for her album, The Ride.

Although she occasionally peeks her head up from the sand to remind her fans that she's still a part of the music community, GQ said Furtado would much rather "be doing sound installations at Art Basel" than "trotting up onstage and dancing in front of thousands of people." 

Her albums have struggled

During the Loose era, Nelly Furtado proved that she was a versatile force to be reckoned with. The entire album was a hodgepodge of eclectic sounds that somehow cohesively created a musical masterpiece. From "Afraid," which detailed the singer's fear of what others thought of her, to "No Hay Igual," where she showcased her multilingual prowess, Loose was a huge success. 

Furtado followed that up with the release of her Spanish-only album, Mi Plan, in 2009, but that project only sold 13,000 copies in its first week, according to Reuters. In 2012, she released The Spirit Indestructible, which sold only 6,000 copies in the United States in its first week and climbed to only No. 79 on the charts. After a five-year break, she reemerged in 2017 with her folk-inspired album The Ride, but it puttered out with only 1,814 copies sold during its first week, according to Chart Data. Compared to Loose, it was clear that her follow-up albums were not connecting with audiences.

Despite her abysmal sales, the singer wasn't too concerned about her music's dwindling popularity. "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 told The Huffington Post.

The real-life Snow White

Some people lock themselves inside of a room when the going gets tough, while others jet off to an exotic location to help them stay centered. For Nelly Furtado, her disappearance from the public eye was intentional, and while she was away, she retreated to a really remote location.

While speaking with the Daily Mail, the singer, who describes herself as "a bit of a hippie," said she frequently takes herself "off to the woods" in order to get away from it all. She also compared herself to a real-life Snow White — minus those lovable seven dwarfs, of course. "I need to escape," she said. "I grew up around trees and by the ocean. I think I've kept a little of that spirit."

She said she enjoys being outside and listening to the birds chirp, which really isn't surprising considering her most popular song, "I'm Like a Bird," is dedicated to her connection to the winged animal.

Fame caught her off guard

With fame coming at her so quickly, it's no wonder Furtado panicked and had a meltdown at the height of her career. "I was not in any way prepared for the scrutiny that fame would bring. Thank goodness I was 20 when it arrived. If I had been a celebrity at 16, I would have been misbehaving so badly. Or, I would have been so repressed and trying so hard not to misbehave that I'd have been a total wreck by 25," she told the Daily Mail.

Being judged for her appearance and marketed as a sex symbol also took a toll on the singer. "Not only do you need to be a musician, but you feel that you also need to look like a model," she told the Daily Mail. "I think I had a good, solid upbringing, but I was still like, 'Oh my God, I look fat in that dress.'" 

Pulling back from the limelight gave her time to learn how to love and accept herself, and Furtado now claims she "evolved" as a person during her absence from the public eye.