x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

So will she be nervous? Not Nelly

The pressure is always there and I always want a personal best, says Grammy Award winner Furtado who will sing at the Yas Island.

ABU DHABI // Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado says she is excited about her forthcoming trip to the capital.

Furtado, 31, who was born in Victoria, Canada, to parents of Portuguese descent, will make her first trip to the UAE later this month and says she has "no idea what to expect".

"I know that it's extremely beautiful from what I've seen in pictures. I guess I'm just wondering what to wear," she said from Toronto.

Furtado is one of a host of A-list performers coming to Abu Dhabi over the next month, but she is not fazed by the pressure of playing live before or after some of the greatest names in music, like Prince and Guns 'N Roses.

"The pressure is always there, and I always want a personal best," she said. "But I got broken in as a performer on festival stages, so I've shared the stage with dozens of acts.

"My theory in life is to stay in your lane. I used to run track and field in high school and I learned this motto then. The moment you look beside you to see how the others are doing is the moment you lose the race."

Furtado's debut album Whoa Nelly! was released in 2000 and her chart-topping single from the album, I'm Like A Bird, earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

She will be performing this song when she takes to the Yas Island stage on November 26, along with other hits like Maneater, All Good Things Come to an End, Turn off the Light and Try.

"I like to play what people want to hear," she said. "It will be a crowd-pleasing kind of performance."

Furtado has two projects on her plate for next year, which she is hoping to promote during her visit to the Emirates. Her new album, Lifestyle - the fourth English album she has produced - will be out in 2011 and she is also releasing a compilation album called The Best Of Nelly Furtado later this month.

She says the Lifestyle album is still a work in progress. She was in the studio this week - recording a Dolly Parton cover for an independent movie being produced in Montreal called The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mother - when inspiration for a new track struck.

"The song I'm singing is called The Seeker and it is a gospel-influenced track. As I was singing it, a whole new idea for a track for the new album came to me and I had to sit down and write all the lyrics on my BlackBerry. That kind of thing happens all the time," she said.

She has been rehearsing for the trip to Abu Dhabi, but says she won't be making changes to her tracks to accommodate cultural sensitivities in the country.

"My music is pretty international, so I don't have any songs to change; I'm pretty politically correct. Also, I'm used to different cultures - I live in the most multi-cultural city in the world. I am a citizen of the world."

The organiser of Furtado's performance, Flash Entertainment, is planning to turn Yas Island into a themed playground for the weekend in celebration of Furtado's hip hop style. It is the second of five themed weekends it is planning on the island following the Formula One race.

Fans and graffiti enthusiasts will be able to leave their mark on Yas Island by taking part in a graffiti competition before her concerts on November 25 and 26.

Furtado fan Amanda Wilkinson, 29, an English teacher in Dubai, says she is looking forward to the performance. "Nelly is awesome; I love her," she said. "I'm so happy to hear she's playing all her biggest tracks. I'm already listening to all of her music again so I can be word perfect and sing along."

aseaman@thenational.ae