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After graduating from Mount Douglas Secondary School in 1996, she moved to Toronto to reside with her sister Lisa Anne.
The following year, she formed Nelstar, a trip hop duo with Newkirk.
In 2003 she released her second album Folklore and was preceded by the lead single "Powerless (Say What You Want)".
Furtado's third album Loose (2006) became her best selling album with 12 million copies sold worldwide.
Following the release of the album, Furtado headlined the "Burn in the Spotlight Tour" and also appeared on Moby's Area: One tour.
Furtado has a star on Canada's Walk of Fame and was awarded Commander of the Order of Prince Henry on February 28, 2014 in Toronto by Aníbal Cavaco Silva, the former President of Portugal.
Furtado's first public performance was when she sang a duet with her mother at a church on Portugal Day.
She began playing musical instruments at the age of nine, learning the trombone, ukulele and, in later years, the guitar and keyboards.
At the age of 12, she began writing songs, Furtado has acknowledged her family as the source of her strong work ethic; she spent eight summers working as a chambermaid with her mother, along with her brother and sister, who was a housekeeper in Victoria.