Shakira

Shakira
Shakira. Photo by Stuart Franklin / Getty Images

Born

February 2, 1977 - Barranquilla, Colombia.

Quote From Shakira

"Writing songs has a therapeutic effect, and it either kills off love or wins the heart of the lover."

Background

Shakira ("Woman of grace" in Arabic) Mebarak was born to an American father of Lebanese descent and a Colombian mother of Spanish and Italian descent in Barranquilla, the fourth largest city in Colombia. The name Shakira means "graceful" in Arabic.

She wrote her first poem at age four and her first song at age eight. As a child she was influenced by music from the cultures of her parents as well as English-language rock music. She has cited bands such as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and Nirvana as major influences. Shakira recorded her first album at age 13 after turning away from a modelling career.

First Albums

Shakira's first album, titled Magia, was released in 1991, and it was composed of songs she had written in the previous few years. It didn't sell well internationally but gained attention at home in Colombia through radio airplay. After her next album, Peligro, Shakira briefly tried an acting career. Having been disappointed with the production on both of her first two albums, Shakira returned to music in 1995 exerting stronger control over her own recordings and incorporating more rock and Arabic influences. The fruit of her efforts was the album Pies Descalzos, her first major label release.

Top Shakira Hit Songs In the US

  • 2001 - "Whenever, Wherever" - #6
  • 2002 - "Underneath Your Clothes" - #9
  • 2005 - "La Tortura" with Alejandro Sanz - #23
  • 2006 - "Hips Don't Lie" with Wyclef Jean - #1
  • 2007 - "Beautiful Liar" with Beyonce - #3
  • 2009 - "She Wolf" - #11
  • 2014 - "Can't Remember To Forget You" with Rihanna - #15

    Latin Star

    The sales of Shakira's music continued to be slow until the single "Estoy Aqui" from Pies Descalzos began to take off and climb the singles charts in Spanish speaking countries around the world. It was followed by several more singles from the album. Pies Descalzos topped album charts in eight different countries and reached #5 on the US Latin albums chart. Shakira earned three Billboard Latin Music Awards for Album of the Year, Video of the Year, and Best New Artist.

    With the release of the follow up album Donde Estan los Ladrones? in 1998, Shakira became an even bigger star and she began to crack the American music market. She produced the entire album herself and enlisted Emilio Estefan, Gloria Estefan's husband, as executive producer. Donde Estan los Ladrones? spent 11 weeks at the top of the Billboard Latin album chart and has sold more than seven million copies worldwide. The album brought her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Latin Rock / Alternative Album. 

    Worldwide Pop-Rock Star

    With a taste of success in the U.S., Shakira set her sights firmly on the American market. She performed on MTV's Unplugged television series and her performance was released as an album in 2000.

    She concentrated on learning English well enough to write her own lyrics in English, and in 2001 she recorded the mostly English album Laundry Service. The album's first single "Whenever, Wherever," heavily influenced by Andean folk music and using the charango and panpipes in the arrangement, turned into a smash hit and landed in the top 10 of the pop singles chart. Laundry Service debuted at #3 on the album chart and eventually sold more than twenty million copies worldwide.

    Shakira spent the next 2 years touring in support of Laundry Service. She released a live album and a Spanish language compilation album, but no new studio recordings appeared until 2005. Upon finally returning to writing songs, Shakira soon found herself with 60 songs, some in Spanish and some in English. She decided to put together one album in Spanish and another in English.

    Oral Fixation

    The Spanish language album Fijacion Oral, vol. 1 appeared in June 2005. It reached #4 on the album chart and sold the most copies in one week ever by a Spanish language album in the U.S. The album won Shakira a Grammy Award for Best Latin Rock / Alternative album. Fijacion Oral, vol. 1 included the hit single "La Tortura" featuring contributions from Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz. "La Tortura" became one of the few Spanish language songs to make inroads in the US mainstream pop market. It peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was one of the biggest pop hits of the year around the world and won the Latin Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. 

    The followup English language album Oral Fixation, vol. 2 was released in November 2005. An expanded reissue of the album included "Hips Don't Lie," a single recorded with Wyclef Jean of the Fugees. It became a worldwide smash hit single in the spring of 2006. It hit #1 in countries around the world including the US and UK. Shakira performed live at the Grammy Awards for the first time performing "Hips Don't Lie," and it earned a nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. In 2007, Shakira collaborated with Beyonce on the single "Beautiful Liar" which hit #3 on the US pop chart and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

    She Wolf and Self-Titled Album

    Shakira returned with her first new studio material in three years, the single "She Wolf," in July 2009. Her third English language studio album, also titled She Wolf, hit stores in the US in November.

    It failed to reach the platinum sales level of her three previous albums in the US. 

    In 2010 Shakira was invited to create the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)," based on a traditional Cameroonian soldiers' song, was a big international hit. It reached #2 on the US Latin chart and became the best selling World Cup song of all time. Shakira's next studio album was the mostly Spanish language Sale el Sol. Amid strong positive reviews, it was an international success and climbed into the top 10 in the US. 

    Shakira joined the coaching panel of the hit TV show The Voice for the fourth season in early 2013. She appeared again for the sixth season in February 2014. Her self-titled tenth studio album was preceded by the Rihanna collaboration "Can't Remember To Forget You." It was an international pop hit and reached #15 in the US. The album was released in March 2014 and climbed to #2 on the US album chart, the highest chart position of Shakira's career. The song "Dare (La La La)" from the album was reworked into "La La La (Brazil 2014)" to become one of the official songs of 2014's FIFA World Cup.

    Shakira provide the voice of the character Gazelle in the Disney animated movie Zootopia in early 2016. She released "Chantaje," the first single from her upcoming eleventh studio album, in October 2016.

    Philanthropic Work

    In addition to her music, Shakira has worked tirelessly on charitable efforts. In 1997 she started the Pies Descalzos Foundation to set up special schools for poor children around her home nation of Colombia.

    She also serves as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.