“If I expect this all to be there, like a next record, or whatever, then I’m pretty much screwed.”
-Nelly Furtado, on the hype surrounding her debut
Nelly Furtado used to be famous. She made a record with the hit single “I’m like a bird” and rapibly became a pop sensation. Her music was played through all of the ordinary avenues, radio, MTV, restaurants, and her face was plastered on TV, on magazines and on billboards. At some point, she was an ordinary person like you or me, unknown but to her friends and family, and the next moment she was a celebrity, (at least on the music scene).
Nelly Furtado became famous because of her musical ability. She has a unique nasally yet quality voice, an energetic and spunky passion, and an ear for clever lyrical wordplay. Her music shows R&B sensability but primarily uses the rhythm as a backdrop for her vocals, which are rhythmic in their own way, in addition to being melodious and beautiful.
Before she became famous, surely, she was into music. She probably sang, wrote, and maybe even produced some music. Regardless, it is surely the fact that music is a part of her that she makes music, and, if music is a part of her, it has always been a part of her, since before the time when she became famous.
At some point, it is almost a certainty that Ms Furtado’s fleeting fame will disappear completely, and she will be forgotten by all but her children, and the children of her friends and relatives who aware ever-more-vaguely aware that Aunt or Grandma Furtado was a famous pop singer when she was young.
Already, as the opening quotation depicts, the pressure of maintaining her past successes disturbs her peace of mind. Any artist will tell you that the creative energy doesn’t flow, the Muses are curiously silent, unless they are in an environment of peace and tranquility (even if the peace and tranquility is entirely internal!). To perform, and more importantly, to create, one must first construct a blank “canvas” inside from which to operate, no matter how many roaring crowds, pushy producers, deadlines or distractings threaten to pull you away from the only thing that got you where you are in the first place.
One of two things is true: Either performers, writers, entertainers, etc. do their art for the sake of becoming famous, or they do it because it is in them. If they do it in order to become famous (and rich, etc.), then the fear of losing the fame will always accompany success, and in equal and opposite proportion. If they do it because it is in them, then, whether they are renowned or not, whether they are beloved or not, whether their fame endures or passes like a candle’s flame, they will continue to perform their art, for to fail to do so would be to fail to be authentically themselves.
Since performance, good or bad, flows from one’s identity, and fame flows from performance, it is irrational, or at least pointless, to hope for earthly fame as a goal and distinct object of desire. For even the famous are only so because they are being themselves, and performing according to their identity. Let us, then, instead hope for self-discovery and a harmonious corresponding performance that accords with the results of that discovery, letting what follows, fame or utter obscurity, be matters of total indifference.