Shakira - biography
Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll ( /ʃəˈkɪərə/, Spanish: [t͡ʃaˈkiɾa]; born February 2, 1977), known mononymously as Shakira, is a Colombian singer-songwriter, dancer, record producer, choreographer and model who emerged in the music scene of Colombia and Latin America in the early 1990s. Born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira began performing in school, demonstrating her vocal ability with rock and roll, Latin and Arabic influences with her own original twist on belly dancing. Shakira is a native Spanish speaker and also speaks fluent English and Portuguese as well as some Italian, French, Catalan and Arabic.
After a poor commercial reception with local producers on her first two albums, and being little-known outside Colombia, Shakira decided to produce her own brand of music. In 1995 she released Pies Descalzos, which brought her great fame in Latin America and Spain, and her 1998 album Dónde Están los Ladrones? was a critical success selling over 10 million copies worldwide. In 2001, aided by the worldwide success of her first English single "Whenever, Wherever" that became the best selling single of 2002, she broke through into the English-speaking world with the release of Laundry Service, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Four years later, Shakira released two album projects called Fijación Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2. Both reinforced her success, particularly with the best selling song of the 2000s, "Hips Don't Lie". In 1997, Shakira founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation. It is a Colombian charity with special schools for poor children all around Colombia. During her career, Shakira has performed at a large number of benefit concerts. Among the most famous are the Live 8 benefit concert in July 2005, the Live Earth concert, Hamburg where she headlined the show, as well as the "Clinton Global Initiative" created by former US President Bill Clinton. She was also invited to the Oval Office by President Barack Obama in February 2010 to discuss early childhood development.
She has won two Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, twelve Billboard Latin Music Awards and has been Golden Globe-nominated. She is also the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, and the second most successful female Latin singer behind Gloria Estefan, having sold over 70 million albums worldwide. Her U.S. album sales stand at 9.9 million. In the fall of 2009, Shakira released her sixth studio album She Wolf worldwide gaining a lot of critical praise for her eccentricity and writing skills. The album sold roughly 2 million copies around the world. Shakira's "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", was chosen as the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song has received generally positive critical reception, and has become a worldwide hit and the biggest selling World Cup song of all time. On YouTube, the English version of the music video is the 3rd most watched video of all time with over 455 million views. When she released her seventh studio album, the bilingual Sale el Sol in October 2010, she gained back her Latin following, which Shakira described as being the main goal for the album. The album has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. Since 2009, Shakira's musical career suffered from a strained relationship with her label Epic Records, which resulted in lack of promotion and investment from Epic Records towards her two latter studio albums She Wolf (2009) and Sale el Sol (2010).
Life and career 1977-1989: Early life and career beginnings
Shakira was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. She is the only child of Nidia Ripoll and William Mebarak Chadid and is of Lebanese, Macedonian, Spanish (Catalan and Castilian) and Italian descent. She has eight older half-siblings from her father's previous marriage.
Shakira spent much of her youth in Barranquilla, a city located in northern Colombia. Shakira wrote her first poem, entitled "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 her wish at age seven and continued writing poetry. These poems eventually evolved into songs. At the age of two, an older half-brother was killed in a motorcycle accident and at the age of eight, Shakira wrote her first song entitled "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. Before she knew it, Shakira was dancing on the table, she then knew she wanted to be a performer. She enjoyed singing for schoolmates and teachers (and even the nuns) at her Catholic school, but in the 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 says she had 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.
When she was eight, Shakira's father declared bankruptcy. While the details were sorted out, she stayed with relatives in Los Angeles. On returning to Barranquilla, she was shocked to find that much of what her parents owned had been sold; as she later said "In my childish head, this was the end of the world." To show her that things could be worse, 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 ten and thirteen 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.
1990–1993: Magia and Peligro
Shakira's debut album, Magia, was recorded with Sony Music Colombia in 1990 when she was only thirteen years old. The songs are a collection made by her since she was 8, mixed pop-rock ballads and disco uptempo songs with electronic accompaniment, however it was hampered by a lack of recording and production cohesion. The album was released in June 1991 and featured "Magia" and three other singles. Though it fared well on Colombian radio and gave the young Shakira much exposure, the album did not fare well commercially as only 1,200 copies were sold worldwide. After the poor performance of Magia, Shakira's label urged her to return to the studio to release a follow-up record. Although little known outside of her native Colombia, Shakira was invited to perform at Chile's Viña del Mar International Song Festival in February 1993. The festival gave aspiring Latin American singers a chance to perform their songs, and the winner was then chosen by a panel of judges. Shakira performed the ballad "Eres" ("You Are") and won the trophy for third place. One of the judges who voted for her to win was then 20-year-old Ricky Martin.
Shakira's second studio album Peligro was released in March, but Shakira was not pleased with the final result, mainly taking issue with the production. The album was better received than Magia, though it was also considered a commercial failure due to Shakira's refusal to advertise it. Shakira then decided to take a hiatus from recording so that she could graduate from high school. In the same year, Shakira starred in the Colombian TV Series "The Oasis", loosely based on the Armero tragedy in 1985. Since then, the albums have been pulled from release and are not considered official Shakira albums but rather promotional albums.
1994-1997: Pies Descalzos and The Remixes
Shakira originally recorded the song "¿Dónde Estás Corazón?" (later released on her album Pies Descalzos) for the compilation album Nuestro Rock in 1995, released exclusively in Colombia. “Pies Descalzos” album brought her great popularity in Latin America by the hit singles "Estoy Aquí," "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos" and "Dónde Estás Corazón." Shakira also recorded three tracks in Portuguese titled “Estou Aqui”, “Um Pouco de Amor”, and “Pés Descalços”.
Shakira returned to recording music under Sony Music along with Columbia in 1995 with Luis F. Ochoa, using musical influences from a number of countries and an Alanis Morissette-oriented persona which affected two of her next albums. These recordings spawned her third studio album but first official, Pies Descalzos. Recording for the album began in February 1995, after the success of her single "¿Dónde Estás Corazón?". Sony gave Shakira $100,000 to produce the album since they predicted that the album would not sell past 100,000 copies. Starting with this album, Shakira began producing her own music, perfecting her vocals and most of all, practicing creative control over her music. Highly influenced by the American alternative market and British groups such as The Pretenders, the album's songs are melodic, musically surprising and gritty, with intellectual lyrics and an electronic/acoustic blend that effectively broke the formulaic mold of Latin pop with an authentic sound that had not been heard before.
The album Pies Descalzos, was released in October 1995 in South America and in February 1996 internationally. It debuted at number one in eight different countries. However, it only managed to reach number one-hundred-eighty on the U.S. Billboard 200 but reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Top Latin Albums chart. The album spawned six hit singles, "Estoy Aquí" which reached number two on the U.S. Latin chart, "¿Dónde Estás Corazón?" which reached number five on the U.S. Latin chart, "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos" which reached number eleven on the U.S. Latin chart, "Un Poco De Amor" which reached number six on the U.S. Latin chart, "Antología" which reached number fifteen on the U.S. Latin Pop Songs chart and "Se Quiere, Se Mata" which reached number eight on the U.S. Latin chart. In August 1996, RIAA certified the album platinum status.
In March 1996, Shakira went on to her first international tour named simply the Tour Pies Descalzos. The tour consisted of 20 shows and ended in 1997. Also in that year, Shakira received three Billboard Latin Music Awards for Album of the Year for Pies Descalzos, Video of the Year for "Estoy Aqui" and Best New Artist. Pies Descalzos later sold over 5 million copies, prompting the release of a remix album, simply titled The Remixes. The Remixes also included Portuguese versions of some of her well known songs, which were recorded as a result of her success in the Brazilian market, where Pies Descalzos sold nearly one million copies.
1998–2000: Dónde Están los Ladrones? and MTV Unplugged
Her second official studio album, Dónde Están los Ladrones?, produced entirely by Shakira herself and Emilio Estefan, Jr. as the executive producer, was released in September 1998. The album, inspired by an incident in an airport in which a suitcase full of her written lyrics was stolen, became a bigger hit than Pies Descalzos. Allmusic and Rolling Stone both gave the album a four out of five stars rating. The album has reached a peak position of number one-hundred-thirty-one on the U.S. Billboard