Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll is a Colombian singer and songwriter. Born and raised in Barranquilla, Shakira has been referred to as the Queen of Latin Music and is noted for her versatility in music.
She made her recording debut under Sony Music Colombia at the age of 13. Following the commercial failure of her first two Colombian albums, Magia (1991) and Peligro (1993), she rose to prominence in Hispanic countries with her next albums, Pies Descalzos (1995) and Dónde Están los Ladrones? (1998). Shakira entered the English-language market with her fifth album, Laundry Service (2001), which sold over 13 million copies worldwide. Buoyed by the international number-one singles “Whenever, Wherever” and “Underneath Your Clothes”, the album propelled her reputation as a leading crossover artist.
Her success was further solidified with the Spanish albums Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 (2005), Sale el Sol (2010), and El Dorado (2017), all of which topped the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart and were certified diamante by the Recording Industry Association of America. Meanwhile, her English albums Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 (2005), She Wolf (2009) and Shakira (2014) were all certified gold, platinum, or multi-platinum in various countries worldwide. Some of her songs have charted at number one in multiple countries, including “La Tortura”, “Hips Don’t Lie”, “Beautiful Liar”, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”, “Loca”, and “Chantaje”. Shakira served as a coach on two seasons of the American singing competition television series The Voice (2013–2014).
With a catalog of 145 songs, Shakira has sold over 80 million records which have made her the best-selling female Latin artist of all time. Shakira remains one of the world’s best-selling music artists. Forbes reported that as of 2018, Shakira has become the female Latin artist who has sold the most albums in history. Shakira has received numerous awards, including three Grammy Awards, twelve Latin Grammy Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, thirty-nine Billboard Latin Music Awards, six Guinness World Records and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was named the Top Female Latin Artist of the Decade by Billboard twice (2000s and 2010s). For her philanthropic work with her Barefoot Foundation and her contributions to music she received the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year and Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year awards in 2011. She was appointed to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in the US in 2011, and Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2012.
- Early life
Born on 2 February 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia, she is the only child of William Mebarak Chadid and Nidia Ripoll Torrado. Her father William is of Lebanese descent and was born in New York City to a family from Lebanon. At the age of 5 his family moved to Colombia. The name Shakira is Arabic for “grateful”, the feminine form of the name Shakir.
From her mother’s side she has two Spanish surnames – Ripoll and Torrado, the former of which is Catalan and originates in four brothers who immigrated to coastal Colombia in the 19th century. She was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools. She has eight older half-siblings from her father’s previous marriage. Shakira spent much of her youth in Barranquilla, a city located on the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia, and wrote her first poem, titled “La Rosa De Cristal/ The Crystal Rose”, when she was only four years old. As she was growing up, she was fascinated watching her father writing stories on a typewriter, and asked for one as a Christmas gift. She got that typewriter at the age of seven, and has continued writing poetry since then. These poems eventually evolved into songs. When Shakira was two years old, an older half-brother was killed in a motorcycle accident; six years later, at the age of eight, Shakira wrote her first song, titled “Tus gafas oscuras/Your dark glasses”, which was inspired by her father, who for years wore dark glasses to hide his grief.
When Shakira was four, her father took her to a local Middle Eastern restaurant, where Shakira first heard the doumbek, a traditional drum used in Arabic music and which typically accompanied belly dancing. She started dancing on the table, and the experience made her realize that she wanted to be a performer. She enjoyed singing for schoolmates and teachers (and even the nuns) at her Catholic school, but in second grade, she was rejected for the school choir because her vibrato was too strong. The music teacher told her that she sounded “like a goat”. At school, she was often sent out of the class because of her hyperactivity (ADHD). She says she had also been known as “the belly dancer girl”, as she would demonstrate every Friday at school a number she had learned. “That’s how I discovered my passion for live performance,” she says. To instill gratitude in Shakira for her upbringing, her father took her to a local park to see orphans who lived there. The images stayed with her, and she said to herself: “One day I’m going to help these kids when I become a famous artist.”
Between the ages of 10 and 13, Shakira was invited to various events in Barranquilla and gained some recognition in the area. It was at this approximate time that she met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with her and as a result tried to help her career. During a flight from Barranquilla to Bogotá, Ariza convinced Sony Colombia executive Ciro Vargas to hold an audition for Shakira in a hotel lobby. Vargas held Shakira in high regard and, returning to the Sony office, gave the cassette to a song and artist director. However, the director was not overly excited and thought Shakira was something of “a lost cause”. Undaunted and still convinced that Shakira had talent, Vargas set up an audition in Bogotá. He arranged for Sony Colombia executives to arrive at the audition, with the idea of surprising them with Shakira’s performance. She performed three songs for the executives and impressed them enough for her to be signed to record three albums.
Pies Descalzos (1995)
Dónde Están los Ladrones? (1998)
Laundry Service (2001)
Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 (2005)
Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 (2005)
She Wolf (2009)
Sale el Sol (2010)
El Dorado (2017)