Born in Colombia on February 2, 1977, a hugely successfully Colombian pop singer and dancer Shakira has won two Grammy Awards, seven Latin Grammy Awards, and 12 Billboard Latin Music Awards, and has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Known for hits like “Whenever, Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie,” Shakira is the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time and the second most successful female Latin singer after Gloria Estefan. By 2012, her U.S. album sales had reached nearly 10 million.
Early Life and Career
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on February 2, 1977, in Barranquilla, Colombia. With a Lebanese father and Colombian mother, Shakira honors both her Latino and Arabic heritage in her music. She wrote her first song at the age of 8 and signed her first record deal at 13.
After her first two albums flopped, Shakira took the reins of her third album, becoming involved in every aspect of its production. Released in 1996, Pies Descalzos, meaning “bare feet,” sold more than 3 million copies. The album featured her trademark sound, a blend of Latin, rock, and Arabic musical styles. Her follow-up record, Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (1998), which translates as “Where are the thieves?”, reached the top of Billboard’s Latin charts. Not long after, Shakira won her first Grammy Award (best Latin pop album) for Shakira: MTV Unplugged (2000).
With the success of her albums, Shakira became a music superstar in the Spanish-language markets, known for her strong vocals and incredible hip-shaking belly dance moves.
While hugely popular throughout much of the rest of the world, Shakira had not yet achieved a major record on the U.S. pop charts. In an attempt to increase her American fan base, in 1997, at the age of 20, the singer moved with her family to Miami, Florida, and taught herself to write songs in English. There, she enlisted Emilio Estefan, of Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine fame, to act as her manager and producer.
In 2001, Shakira released her first English-language album, Laundry Service, which quickly brought her the success in the United States she had been waiting for. The album reached No. 3 on the charts, selling more than 200,000 copies in its first week of release. Laundry Service’s big hits included “Whenever, Wherever” and “Underneath Your Clothes.”
Shakira returned to the Top 10 of the album’s chart twice in 2005. She released the Spanish-language Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 in June of that year, followed by the English-language Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 in November. Fijación Oral, Vol. 1 garnered Shakira her second Grammy, this time for best Latin rock/alternative album.
Touring extensively, Shakira went on to release two concert albums: 2007’s Live and 2008’s Oral Fixation Tour. In July 2009, she put out a new single, “She Wolf,” from her studio album of the same name. The album hit No. 15 on the Billboard charts in 2009 and went platinum in 2010. Around the same time, her hit “Waka Waka” from 2010’s Sale el Sol became the theme song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Shortly thereafter, the now-global superstar headed on tour to promote her album.
By 2012, Shakira’s U.S. album sales had reached nearly 10 million and her worldwide album sales had reached more than 70 million. She is the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, and the second most successful female Latin singer after Gloria Estefan. In March 2014, Shakira released a self-titled studio album. The album includes a song with Voice co-star and country singer Blake Shelton. The same year, she took her signature grooves to the global stage again when she closed out the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
In late 2012, Shakira was confirmed as a judge/coach on NBC’s popular singing-competition show The Voice. Along with R&B singer-songwriter Usher, Shakira made her Voice debut on the show’s season 4 premiere, which aired on March 25, 2013. Replacing Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green, Shakira and Usher joined returning judges/coaches Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. “Usher and Shakira are coming into it as a big frickin’ institution,” Levine said in late 2012, according to The Huffington Post. “So it’s different, but it still feels good, because they’re legitimate artists.”
Shakira quickly became popular with TV audiences. Both she and Usher were not part of the show’s fifth season, however. Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green returned for that season. She and Usher made their return to the panel in season 6 of The Voice.
Outside of her busy career, Shakira created the Pies Descalzos Foundation to help children in her native Colombia receive a quality education. She is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and was honored by the United Nations’ International Labor Organization for her philanthropic efforts in 2010.
I always ask myself, what was the real purpose of my life? I always knew it was not to shake it endlessly, you know what I mean?
Shakira is in a relationship with Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué. The couple welcomed their first child together on January 22, 2013. They named their son Milan, which means “dear, loving and gracious” in Slavic; “eager and laborious” in Ancient Roman; and “unification” in Sanskrit, according to a statement on Shakira’s website. In August 2014, the couple announced she was pregnant again. Their second son was born on January 29, 2015.
Shakira previously dated Antonio de la Rua, son of former Argentine President Fernando de la Rua. In April 2013, de la Rua made headlines when he sued the Latin songstress for $250 million, charging that he had helped create some of his ex’s hit songs as well as the “Shakira brand.”