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Story and Photos By Andy ArgyrakisIn order to stay atop the pop charts, its essential to sway with the trends or set them yourself. Just ask Madonna, her second coming Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Mariah Carey or any other diva whose enchanted the hearts of the public at large with their sugary sweet beats and steamy stage shows. Though Nelly Furtado could've fit in that category during the mid-2000s thanks to her time under the tutelage of super producer Timbaland, she's clearly disinterested in keeping pace with those former peers, instead spreading her wings as an artist and exploring a labor of love.
On a tour in support of her latest CD Mi Plan (Universal Latino), the body suit-clad Furtado made it clear she's a fan of the Spanish language and can present an authentic blend of contemporary and traditional Latin flavors. While much different in nature than her sensual club opener "Maneater" at the always inviting Ravinia (complete with a lawn that resembled a dance party in certain pockets to stay warm from the fall-like chill), it was far from the first time Furtado's done a drastic career makeover.
Just a few songs later, she dipped back to the breakthrough hit "I'm Like a Bird," which found her debuting as an organic singer/songwriter who could've easily fit into the Lilith Fair scene. Between this seemingly divergent example, other radio staples and newer Spanish material, it could be argued that Furtado's simply a schizophrenic artist unsure of her skin. However, she confidently and convincingly charged forward in each direction (imagine a more cutting edge version of Gloria Estefan) sounding just as close to home on the ethnically-charged "Mas" or "Fuerte" as a chunky cover of Genesis' "Land of Confusion" and the folksy "Powerless (Say What You Want)."
Yet it was clearly rump shakers off 2006's smash CD Loose that made the most impact, building from the rhythmic power ballad "All Good Things (Come To An End)" to the bubble gum beat blaster "Say It Right" (though the slightly too short 75-minute set would've also benefited from the unfortunately omitted "Promiscuous"). Even though this direction is the most successful, it's clear Furtado could care less about commercial conventions and is loving straddling the lines between her split personalities.
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