Her Portuguese parents were emigrants from the Azores, both from São Miguel Island.
Furtado was born on December 2, 1978, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Her Portuguese parents, Maria Manuela and António José Furtado, were emigrants from the Azores, both from São Miguel Island. They emigrated to Canada in the late 1960s.Nelly was named for Soviet gymnast Nellie Kim. Her siblings are Michael Anthony and Lisa Anne. They were raised Roman Catholic. At age four, she began performing and singing in Portuguese. Furtado's first public performance was when she sang a duet with her mother at a church on Portugal Day.