Nelly Furtado was named after Nellie Kim

Nelly Furtado's album "Whoa, Nelly!" (2000)

Portuguese-Canadian pop singer Nelly Furtado was born in British Columbia in December of 1978.

Her full name at birth was Nelly Kim Furtado, and, back when she was promoting her first album, she mentioned (during a Yahoo! Music chat) that her given names were inspired by an athlete:

lovegrowsdeeper: is nelly short for noella?

launch_nelly_furtado: No, just Nelly. Nelly Kim Furtado. I was named after a gymnast.

Soviet gymnast Nelli Kim competed against Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Both Nelli and Nadia earned more than one “perfect 10” at the Games that year, but Nadia’s initial 10 came first.

During the years she was competing, Kim’s first name was typically transliterated “Nelli.” These days she lives in the U.S. and seems to prefer the spelling “Nellie.”

Interestingly, Nellie Kim knows about her namesake and is eager to meet her:

Do you know the singer Nelly Furtado, who was named after you?

– Her full name is Nelly Kim Furtado. Here’s the story… I don’t know how to contact her. About 10-15 years ago she came to Minneapolis with a concert, my American friends wrote her an email: Dear Nelly, you know, Nellie Kim is also here, it would be great to meet, gather both Nellie Kims, get acquainted. But there is probably some filtering going on there: someone from her management apparently considered this letter a joke.

But who knows what will happen — maybe some journalist will tell her: dear, there’s this Nellie Kim, she lives basically across the road from you. You’re in Canada, she’s in Minneapolis, an hour flight.

I hope they’re able to get together someday. :)


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