The talented Latin pop singer Shakira was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 2, 1977, as Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll. Being the youngest daughter in the family, she inherits an exotic look with the mixture of Lebanese-Colombian blood from her parents, William Mebarak Chadid and Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado. At her early age, she listened to the music of her parents' culture as well as English-language songs, preferably those came from Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Police, and The Cure.
"I was so in love with that rock sound" she said, "But at the same time because my father is of 100% Lebanese descent, I am devoted to Arabic tastes and sounds. Somehow I am fusion of all of those passions and my music is a fusion of elements that I can make coexist in the same place in one song."
Shakira began writing her own song when she was merely 8 years old, and then at age 10 went to compete in either local or national talent contests in which she always won. Within the year of 1990, this 13-years-old girl, whose name in Arabic means "woman full of grace," moved to Bogota, hoping to establish a career in modeling. Instead of becoming a model, she was noticed by Miguel E. Cubillos and Pablo Tedeschi of Sony Colombia which later offered her a record deal.
In the following year, she released her first album entitled "Magia" (Magic) which was quite successful. It contained the songs she had written on her own between the age of 8 and 13. The second album, "Peligro" (Danger), came to public in 1993 and had the same response with the previous one. Being a perfectionist, Shakira felt dissatisfied with the album's result, thus she turned her attention to acting in 1994, taking the role of Luisa Maria in the Colombian soap opera, "El Oasis."
Apparently, music took roots in Shakira's heart for she returned to the business by coming up with her third album, "Pies Descalzos" (Barefeet), in 1995. In this album, she composed her songs with more rock and roll rhythms blended with the Arabic tinges. This particular album surprisingly became number one in eight different countries with its hit single "Esto Aqui" getting platinum in U.S.
Focusing her thoughts on music, she finally left "El Oasis" in 1997. In order to develop her career as a singer, Shakira decided to take Emilio Estefan, Jr as her manager and producer. This alliance with Gloria Estefan's husband proved a brilliant movement since her next album, "D onde Estan los Ladrones? (Where Are the Thieves?)" became a phenomenal album when it was launched in 1998, even outnumbered its predecessor.
With the hit single "Ojos Asi", this album reached number one spot on U.S Billboard's Latin Chart for 11 weeks and was sold over 4 million copies, making Multi Platinum in America and Platinum in Spain. As a result of the album's success, Shakira rapidly became a well-known singer worldwide and was noticed for her uniqueness in involving belly dancing and Arabic rhythms which unbelievably match with her athletic yet intense performance.
In the same year, she received World Music Awards as Latin Female Artist of The Year, which led her to be one of the top Latin artists in the end of '90s era. Following the success of the single "Ojos Asi," Gloria Estefan offered to translate the song into English. That was when Shakira realized that she had to master English to keep her control over her materials and be able to translate or write her songs by herself.
While starting to learn English, Shakira had a performance on MTV Channel's MTV Unplugged, which is the first Spanish language broadcast. In early 2000, she released "MTV Unplugged", a live version album of "D onde Estan los Ladrones?" which granted her a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album and two Latin Grammy Awards as Best Female Pop Vocal for the song "Ojos Asi" and as Best Female Rock Vocal for "Octavo Dia".
After mastering English, Shakira began working her goal to international market. By the year of 2002, "Laundry Service" was released with its remarkable singles, "Whenever, Wherever" and "Underneath Your Clothes". The album soon became one of the top albums of the year, being sold for over 10 million copies and subsequently went Triple Platinum no more than a year. Furthermore, the album has also led Shakira to achieve another Latin Grammy Awards and 5 MTV Video Music Awards of Latin America.
Concerning the title of the album, the singer explained, "Now I am feeling unguarded, and it feels great. I feel washed clean of the way I looked at things in the past, which is why I am calling the album 'Laundry Service'." Afterwards, she went around the world to hold a tour called "The Tour of the Mongoose". Entitled "Grandes Exitos", the DVD version of the tour was launched on March 30, 2004, together with a CD consisting of 10 songs taken from the same tour.
In 2005, Shakira prepped her latest Spanish album entitled "Fijaci on Oral, Vol. 1" for June release, followed by her English album entitled "Oral Fixation, Vol. 2" released November of the same year. In these upcoming albums, she works with Luis Fernando Ochoa and Lester Mendez. Her latest Spanish single, "La Tortura" featuring Alejandro Sanz, became number one hit on Billboard's Hot Latin Track.
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.
Shakira released "She Wolf" in 2009 and followed it with Spanish version "Sale el Sol" in the next year. After her latest English album that couldn't crack the top 10 on Hot 200, she made a major comeback with an addictive track, "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", which she recorded for 2010 World Cup soundtrack. It became No. 1 in the charts around the world.
During the video shoot, she met soccer player Gerard Pique, centre back for FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team. They dated ever since and welcomed a son, Milan Pique Mebarak, on January 22, 2013. While embracing motherhood, she was hard at work to finish her next album.
Finally, a self-titled album is set for March 25, 2014. The first single from her eponymous CD, "Cant' Remember to Forget You", features Rihanna. They grabbed attention with its music video which sees them in a "naked embrace." Controversy ensued with some slamming the two female stars for glorifying lesbianism with their risky clip.