Shakira Biography

Shakira is a world renown singer and song writer who became famous on a global scale in the year 2001 for her first English single “Whenever, Wherever”.

Quick Facts

Nickname: Shaki

Date of Birth: 2nd February, 1977

Place of Birth:  Barranquilla, Colombia

Origin: Columbian

Profession: Singer, Musician, Dancer, Song Writer, Record Producer, Philanthropist

Known for: Singer


Childhood and Growing Years

Shakira was born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll to father William Mebarak Chadid and mother Nidia Ripoll. She is their only child, but is the youngest of eight half- siblings from her father’s previous marriage. Her half-brother died in a freak motorcycle accident when she was just two years old, and this inspired her to write a song at age eight titled Tus Gafas Oscuras (Your Dark Glasses) as her father wore dark glasses for years to hide his grief at his son’s death.

She spent most of her childhood years in Barranquilla, Colombia; and her interest in music started at a very early age. She finished writing her first poem at the very young age of four. She titled it “La Rosa De Cristal”, which means “The Crystal Rose”. She was always fascinated by her father’s typewriter as a child, and it was the first gift she ever asked for, that she wanted a typewriter for Christmas. Her father presented it to her when she was seven years old, and she kept writing poetry which gradually turned into song writing. Her first experience with the doumbek (a traditional drum instrument which typically is an accompaniment of belly dancing) was when she was just four years old, when her father took her to a local diner. She started dancing to those beats, and even then she knew that she would become a performer someday.

She was enrolled in a traditional Catholic school, and loved singing for her teachers and friends, but she was rejected from the choir in her school as her music teacher felt that she had too strong a voice. Her belly dancing skills were quite well-known in her school, and she would often perform for an audience at the school every week. She also loved to swim and play tennis.

Her father declared bankruptcy when she was eight, and she was sent to live with her relatives in LA for a while. She was totally taken by surprise to find on her return, that most of their possessions had been sold, and was taking it badly, until her dad took her to visit a few slum orphans in the neighboring area to show her that things were not as bad for her as she thought they were. She was very moved by their plight, and vowed to herself that she would help them when she became famous one day.( and stayed true to her word) From when she was ten years, for the next 3 years, she was invited to perform at numerous events in her local city, and she gained some recognition in her home town. It was around this time that she got to know Monica Ariza, who was a local producer of theater, and who was so impressed with her that she tried to help further Shakira’s burgeoning career.

Claim to Fame

Monica Ariza helped Shakira secure a deal with Sony Music, Columbia, and she recorded her first music album, Magia, when she was thirteen. It was a collection of songs that she had written and composed since the age of eight. This did well on local radio stations, and brought her some local recognition, but did not do well commercially due to improper recording and production mix, and sold just a little over 1200 copies worldwide.

In 1992, she recorded Peligro, her second studio album, and it was received better than her first album, but she was unhappy with the way it was produced, and her refusal to advertise this album made it another commercial failure for her. Both these albums were later pulled from release, and were just considered as promotional albums rather than official studio albums.

She then decided to take a break from music for a while so that she could finish high school education.
From 1995 to 2001, she recorded two official studio albums with Sony Music, both in Latin. Pies Descalzos in 1995, and Dónde Están Los Ladrones? in 1998. Both these albums were huge commercial successes, and brought her global recognition and put her on the global map. She started doing world tours for these albums, and her fan base expanded almost exponentially.
After her success with these albums, she worked for over an year to release an English album. Her first English single “Whenever, Wherever” was a huge international success and it was the #1 single in most countries. It was after this that she became a true celebrity, with people all over the world grooving to her hit single. This was a part of her third studio album, Laundry Service, which had other notable hit songs like “Objection (Tango)” and “Underneath your Clothes”. Her album became the best selling album of the year 2002.
She spent a year promoting this album and did her first worldwide tour after this album.

She released her next album “Fijación Oral Vol. 1” in 2005, which was a huge hit, especially her hit single from the album, “La tortura” won her many awards. Her next bilingual album, “Oral Fixation Vol.2”. Even though the second volume was not a huge international success, it spawned another single called “Hips Don’t lie” which featured Wyclef Jean. Her unforgettable 2006 single “Hips Don’t Lie” was the largest selling single of the 21st century, and held the #1 spot in 55 countries.

She released her sixth studio album “She Wolf”, in the October of 2009.

Awards and Nominations

She has been touted as one of the best Latin performers in the world after her debut in the 90’s. Her albums have sold over 75 million copies worldwide. She has won 8 Latin Grammy Awards and 2 English Grammy Awards.

She won 19 awards in 2002 from 31 nominations, which included Best Music Video at the Latin Grammy Awards for her music video of “Suerte”. She won four awards out of eleven nominations in 2003, including a  World Music Award for the Best Selling Latin Female Artist and an Echo Award for Best International Female Artist.

In 2005, Shakira won 16 awards including Best Female Artist at the 2005 MTV Europe Music Awards and also won 3 Billboard Music Awards.

In 2006, she was nominated for 50 awards and won 32 of them, including Grammy Awards for Best Latin Rock and Alternative Album, American Music Awards for Favorite Latin Artist, four Latin Grammy Awards including Song of the Year and Record of the Year all for her album “La Tortura”. That album also won her the Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for the Latin Version of her album Oral Fixation. She won six Latin Billboard Music Awards for her album “La Tortura” for Latin Ringtone of the Year.

In 2009, at the 51st Bambi Awards, she was awarded the Best International Pop Artist of the Year for “She Wolf”. Also the Latin version of her 2005 album “Oral Fixation” won the Billboard Music Award for the Latin Pop Album of the Decade.

In 2010, she won the title of World’s Best Selling Latin American artist for the year 2010 at the World Music Awards.

All in all, she has been the recipient of 278 awards out of the total 309 times she has been nominated.

Personal Quotes

“I am trying to make my accent so it won’t bother anyone, but I am not going to drive myself crazy trying to pretend I am an American girl when I am from Colombia.”

“It doesn’t bother me to talk about my private life, it doesn’t bother me to talk about anything. My life is like a glass of water, transparent.”

“Writing in English was a major challenge. I didn’t want other songwriters to write for me. I wanted to preserve the spirit of my songs in Spanish. I am the same Shakira in English as I am in Spanish.”

“My team and I have reunited two elements that coexist with difficulty: respect and affection, because when they love you they don’t respect you and when they respect you they don’t love you.”

“In this life, to earn your place you have to fight for it.”

“I always believed that women have rights and that there are some women that are intelligent enough to claim those rights. There are some others that are stupid enough not to.”

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