Born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira is a hugely popular Colombian pop singer who is known for the hits “Whenever, Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie.”
Who Is Shakira?
Shakira is a hugely successfully Colombian pop singer and dancer and has won multiple Grammy, Latin Grammy and American Music Awards. Known for hits like “Whenever, Wherever” and “Hips Don’t Lie,” Shakira is the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, with estimates of more than 70 million albums sold worldwide. Additionally, she has served as a judge on the popular singing-competition show The Voice.
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.
Breakthrough: ‘Pies Descalzos’
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.
International Stardom: ‘Laundry Service’
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 albums 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, while the English album produced the monster hit “Hips Don’t Lie.”
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 January 2016, the video for “Waka Waka” had been viewed more than a billion times.
By 2012, Shakira’s U.S. album sales had reached nearly 10 million and her worldwide album sales had reached more than 70 million, making her the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, and the second most successful female Latin singer after Gloria Estefan.
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 CeeLo 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. Although both she and Usher left The Voice after the season to make room for the return of Aguilera and Green, the season 4 newcomers were back again as coaches for season 6.
More Music: ‘Shakira’ to ‘El Dorado’
In March 2014, Shakira released a self-titled studio album, which included a track with her Voice co-star Shelton. That same year, she took her signature grooves to the global stage again when she closed out the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Meanwhile, the Latin superstar continued working on her music. In October 2016, she dropped a new single, “Chantaje,” from her upcoming album, El Dorado. Upon its May 2017 release, El Dorado revealed a tracklist comprised almost entirely of songs sung in Spanish. True to form, the album went multi-platinum for the Latin singer, who announced plans for a tour in June.
Unfortunately, the tour didn’t go as planned. Shortly before her scheduled November 8 performance in Cologne, Germany, Shakira canceled the concert because of strained vocal cords. Although she was hopeful of recovering in time for a November 10 show in Paris, she apologetically canceled that one and subsequent dates as well.
In late December, Shakira announced that she was recovering and making preparations to continue her tour. Following another Grammy win, for Best Latin Pop Album, her El Dorado World Tour resumed in June 2018, though another snafu occurred when fans noticed that a necklace being sold on the performer’s website bore a resemblance to a Nazi symbol. The tour promoter accepted responsibility for the design and apologized for the “inadvertent similarity.”
Super Bowl Halftime Show With J.Lo
In September 2019, it was announced that Shakira would be joining forces with Jennifer Lopez for the Super Bowl 2020 halftime show in Miami, Florida. “I feel incredibly honored and humbled to be, in a way, next to J.Lo, representing the Latino community that is such an important force in the United States,” Shakira said.
Taking the stage first for the performance, Shakira showcased her hip-shaking moves while speeding through a medley of her hits, finding the time to squeeze in a few guitar licks, handle the drums and send social media users into a tizzy with her tongue-wagging ululation.
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 philanthrophic efforts in 2010.
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, Sasha, 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.”