A Colombian singer, songwriter, dancer, and record producer whose Hip don’t lie, Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on born 2 February 1977. She was born and raised in Barranquilla, she began performing in school, demonstrating Latin American, Arabic, and rock and roll influences and belly dancing abilities. She is the only child of Nidia Ripoll Torrado and William Mebarak Chadid. Her paternal grandparents emigrated from Lebanon to New York City, where her father was born. Her father then emigrated to Colombia at age 5. The name Shakira is Arabic which means “grateful”. It is the feminine form of the name Shakir. She was raised Roman Catholic and attended Catholic schools. She has eight older half-siblings from her father’s previous marriage. She spent much of her youth in Barranquilla, a city located on the northern Caribbean coast of Colombia.
Shakira 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 a 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 and 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 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. 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 about this 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”. Vargas, not daunted, was still convinced that Shakira had talent, and 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.
Shakira entered the English-language market with her fifth album, Laundry Service. Its lead single, “Whenever, Wherever”, became the best-selling single of 2002. Her success was solidified with her sixth and seventh albums Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 (2005), the latter of which spawned one of the best-selling songs of the 21st century, “Hips Don’t Lie”. Shakira’s eighth and ninth albums, She Wolf (2009) and Sale el Sol (2010), received critical praise. Her official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”, became the biggest-selling World Cup song of all time. With over 1.3 billion views, it is one of the most-watched music videos on YouTube. Shakira served as a coach on the fourth and sixth seasons of the American version of The Voice in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Her tenth album, Shakira (2014), is preceded by its lead single, “Can’t Remember to Forget You”.
Shakira has won many awards, including five MTV Video Music Awards, two Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, 28 Billboard Latin Music Awards and has been Golden Globe-nominated. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has sold between 70 and 125 million records worldwide (depending on the source), making her one of the best selling Latin artists of all time. She carries out well-known philanthropic activities through charity work most notably through her Pies Descalzos Foundation. In 2014, she was listed as the 58th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
Shakira began a relationship with Argentine lawyer Antonio de la Rúa in 2000. In a 2009 interview, Shakira stated their relationship already worked as a married couple, and that “they don’t need papers for that.” On 10 January 2011, Shakira announced on her website that after 11 years together, she and de la Rúa had separated in August 2010 after making “a mutual decision to take time apart from our romantic relationship.” She wrote that the couple “view this period of separation as temporary”, with de la Rúa overseeing Shakira’s “business and career interests as he has always done.”
In September 2012, it was reported that de la Rúa planned to sue Shakira for $250 million, seeking monetary compensation for his work as her business manager as well as ownership of properties jointly held by the former couple. De la Rúa eventually filed a lawsuit in April 2013, asking for $100 million he believes he is owed after Shakira suddenly terminated her business partnership with him in October 2011, ten months after they announced the end of their romantic relationship. His lawsuit was dismissed by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge in August 2013. Shakira is currently in a relationship with the Spanish football player Gerard Piqué, centre back for FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team. They met in spring 2010 when Piqué appeared in the music video for Shakira’s song “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”, the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In September 2012, Shakira confirmed that she and Piqué were expecting their first child together. Shakira gave birth to the couple’s first son, Milan Piqué Mebarak, on 22 January 2013 in Barcelona, Spain, where the family resides. Shakira gave birth to their second son, Sasha Piqué Mebarak, on 29 January 2015.
Shakira’s talent was so unique, unusual and impressive that the Nobel Prize winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, praised her, “Shakira’s music has a personal stamp that doesn’t look like anyone else’s and no one can sing or dance like her, at whatever age, with such an innocent sensuality, one that seems to be of her own invention.”
Beyond her activities in music, Shakira was also deeply involved in her Pies Descalzos Foundation aimed at promoting education and to providing basic needs among displaced children who suffer from the violence in Colombia. She served as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF as well.0