Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, born in Barranquilla, Colombia on the 2nd of February 1977, is a singer, songwriter, and dancer who emerged into the Latin American music scene in the early 1990s and has since become the number one top-selling Latin artist of all time.
Shakira, as she is known, has achieved international success and fame with her unique music and original dance style. Encouraged by her father, Shakira began writing at a very early age. At age four, she had already written her first poem. Later that year, Shakira and her father were dining at a Middle Eastern restaurant when she enthusiastically joined a group of belly dancers who were performing that night.
Her impressive belly-dancing performance, which would later become her signature dance move, was rewarded with applause. It was then that Shakira knew she wanted to become a performer. At the age of seven, Shakira received a typewriter which she used to write poems that would later evolve into songs.
Young Shakira enjoyed singing and performing to anyone who would pay attention, undeterred by the fact that she had been rejected from the school choir by a music teacher who said that her overpowering vibrato made her sound like a goat. (Vibrato in singing, this term is used to describe a vibration in the pitch. Opera singers are often characterized by this).Shakira performed at various events between the ages of ten and thirteen and caught the attention of Monica Ariza, a local theater producer. A stroke of good luck would place Ariza on the same flight as Sony Colombia Executive, Ciro Vargas, whom Ariza would convince to hold an audition for the Colombian singer in a hotel lobby.
Vargas, impressed by Shakira’s talent, tricked his fellow Sony executives into giving her an in-person audition by telling them that they would be seeing someone else. Shakira performed three songs for them and the result was a three album record deal. Magia, Shakira’s first album, was hardly a success. Recorded and released in 1991, when the Colombian singer was only fourteen years old, the album fared well on Colombian radio but only sold 1,200 copies. Shakira returned to the studio shortly after and recorded Peligro, which came out in 1993.
The album was considered another commercial failure, although Shakira began to build a loyal following.Shakira appeared in Chile’s Viña del Mar International Song Festival in February of 1993. Ricky Martin, one of the judges, voted for her performance and she came third in the competition giving her positive exposure outside of her native Colombia. After taking a hiatus to finish high school, Shakira returned to the studio to make her third album, Pies Descalzos, which debuted in 1995. Hit singles such as “Estoy Aquí,” “Pies Descalzos”, “Sueños Blancos” and “Dónde Estás Corazón”, propelled Shakira to stardom in Latin America. The album sold over 4 million copies and a later remix of the same album sold 500,000 more.
Pies Descalzos led to Shakira's first international tour and a year later the artist received three Billboard Latin Music Awards for Album of the Year, Video of the Year for “Estoy Aquí”, and Best New Artist.Teaming up with renowned producer Emilio Estefan, Gloria Estefan’s husband, Shakira released her fourth album ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? which won her fans in non-Spanish speaking countries. Her growing popularity was solidified when Shakira performed on the first Spanish language version of “MTV Unplugged.”
The live performance was released on CD, earning the Colombian dancer her first Grammy Award. At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, she was named favorite international artist.Shakira crossed-over into the English market with the release of Laundry Service, which yielded the hit single “Whenever Wherever” and sold over 13 million copies worldwide. Four years later, the Colombian songwriter released a double album project: Fijación Oral Vol. 1, in Spanish, and Oral Fixation Vol. 2, in English. Both albums reinforced her success. Fijación Oral Vol. 1 won her a slew of awards and the single: “La Tortura”, featuring Alejandro Sanz, became an international hit. Oral Fixation Vol. 2 was very well received and delivered the most successful song of the 21st century to date: “Hips Don’t Lie”.
In 2009 Shakira released “She Wolf”, which became an instant success occupying the #1 spot in 18 countries. The Colombian singer also created the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup called: “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” and the Spanish version titled: “Waka Waka (Esto es África)”, which became worldwide hits.Shakira is the highest-selling Colombian artist and the second most successful Latin American singer of all time.
The singer has won many awards and is also the only artist from South America to have reached the number one spot on the US Hot 100 Billboard, the Australia ARIA chart and the UK Singles Chart. In 2008, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce's Walk of Fame Committee elected Shakira to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.