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Shakira Biography



Name: Shakira
Profession: Singer, Actress
Birth Date: February 2, 1977
Height: 4' 11"

Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (born February 2, 1977), better known simply as Shakira, is a Colombian Latin pop singer-songwriter.

Shakira was born in Barranquilla, Colombia to a mother of Catalán and Italian descent and an American-born father of Lebanese background. Shakira began writing and composing music at the age of eight. One of the first songs she wrote was called "Tus Gafas Oscuras," whose lyrical message revolved around her father and his grief over a son who had died due to a car accident. At the age of ten, Shakira applied for her school choir, but she was rejected because her voice had been noted as "too strong." Friends teased her by saying she sounded like a goat. Shakira started looking for other singing opportunities and competed in a weekly television singing competition for children, Vivan Los Niños.

Between the ages of ten to thirteen, Shakira was invited to various events in Barranquilla, and became a local celebrity. At that time, she met local theatre producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with Shakira and helped to make her known outside Barranquilla. During a flight from Barranquilla to Bogotá, Ariza happened to be sitting next to Sony Colombia executive Ciro Vargas. Vargas agreed to hold an audition for Shakira, which took place a few weeks later in a hotel lobby. Vargas was impressed and returned to the Sony office and gave Shakira's cassette to the song and artist director, but he was not excited at all, and thought Shakira was "a lost cause." Vargas was convinced that Shakira had talent, and set up a surprise audition in Bogotá. He tricked the Sony Colombia executives to this bar, and around midnight he announced he had a surprise: Shakira. She sang three songs, and her performance was a hit. Shakira was subsequently signed to write and record three albums.

Magia (Magic) was Shakira's debut album, recorded with Sony Colombia in 1991, at the age of 13. The songs were penned by her from the time she was eight, however it was hampered by a lack of recording and production cohesion and did not fare well commercially. Less than one thousand copies were sold and the album is now a sought after collector's item.

Peligro (Danger) was Shakira's second album. It was released in 1993 through Sony Colombia, when Shakira was just 15. This album fared better than Magia, but Shakira decided to take a break from recording and graduate from high school. The recording itself was a collection of self-penned songs, but it was once again marred by a lack of cohesive production.

Shakira returned to the music business in 1995 with the album Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet), which established her commercial success. The album, The Remixes, was subsequently recorded and featured remixes from the songs on Pies Descalzos, with some songs re-recorded in Portuguese.

Following the release of The Remixes, Shakira became acquainted with Emilio Estefan, Jr., who ended up working as an executive producer on Shakira's fourth studio album, ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (Where Are the Thieves?). It was an expensive production, costing approximately $3 million. Singles from the album include "Ciega Sordomuda," "Moscas En La Casa," "No Creo," "¿Donde Están Los Ladrones?," "Inevitable," "Tú," "Si Te Vas," "Octavo Día" and the worldwide success "Ojos Así." The album's blend of rock and Latin sound scapes made it a big success. Shakira also produced Shakira MTV Unplugged, a live album based on the singles from ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?.

In March 2000, she started her three-month long "Tour Anfibio" through Latin America and the United States, starting in Panama and ending in Argentina upon popular request. In August 2000, Shakira won the now-defunct "International Viewer's Choice Award" at the MTV Video Music Awards with "Ojos Asi."

Upon the success of ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?, Shakira began working on a crossover album to the English language. Collaborating with Gloria Estefan, Shakira wrote and recorded English versions of the tracks from ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?, and new songs were also composed to create Laundry Service. Although it was aimed at the English language market, the rock and Spanish dance-influenced album also features four Spanish songs, including "Que Me Quedes Tú." Some critics claimed that Shakira's English skills were too weak for her to write in it (she was satirized in a MAD TV sketch), but Laundry Service was a success, yielding the worldwide hit "Whenever, Wherever" and singles "Underneath Your Clothes" (a Canadian No. 1), "Te Dejo Madrid," "Objection (Tango)," and "The One." The album and its singles established Shakira's musical presence in the mainstream North American market.

In 2002, Shakira also released the Spanish greatest hits volume Grandes éxitos. A DVD and ten-track compilation album called Live & Off the Record, was released in 2004 commemorating Shakira's 2002-2003 world tour, the "Tour of the Mongoose." The name of the tour was derived from the fact that a mongoose can defeat a cobra without being killed by its poison. The concerts were interspersed with visuals of a mongoose fighting a cobra.

In September 2002, Shakira was one of the last artists to win the now-defunct "International Viewer's Choice Award" at the MTV Video Music Awards with Suerte. In October of the same year, she won five MTV Video Music Awards Latin America for "Best Female Artist," "Best Pop Artist," "Best Artist–North (Region)," "Video of the Year (for Suerte)," and "Artist of the Year." At Aerosmith's MTV Icon in 2002, Shakira performed "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)." Also in 2002, Shakira joined the likes of Celine Dion, Anastacia, Cher and The Dixie Chicks for VH1 Divas Live Las Vegas.

Fijación Oral Vol. 1 was released on June 6, 2005 in Europe and on June 7, 2005 in North America and Australia. The lead single "La Tortura" (English: The Torture, featuring Alejandro Sanz) eventually reached number one in Spain and number 23 on on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, the highest position for a Spanish song in the United States. In Canada, "La Tortura" also became the highest-charting Spanish song when it debuted and peaked at number 21. Its success across the rest of the world was widespread and it managed to peak within the top ten of the majority of the charts it entered. In the U.S., "La Tortura" spent a still-record 25 weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart, and it became the most successful Latin single ever.

Fijación Oral Vol. 1 was simultaneously released in Latin America. It debuted at number one in Spain and at number four on the U.S. Billboard 200, the best-selling Spanish first-week sales album of all-time. It was also well-received in non-Spanish speaking countries such as Italy and Germany, where it reached number one, Austria, where it reached number three, and Canada and Hungary, where it reached number seven. The second single from Fijación Oral Vol. 1, "No," was released in September 2005. It failed to match the international chart success of "La Tortura," although it peaked at number one in Spain and Colombia.

On October 30, 2005 at the Hackney Empire in Hackney, East London, England, Shakira presented her new album Oral Fixation Vol. 2 to more than 250 competition winners and selected members of the British press. The concert was hosted by MTV and was featured in the MTV 5 Star campaign following her performance. Shakira was one of the first artists to be featured for the campaign.

Shakira's second English album Oral Fixation Vol. 2 was released on November 29, 2005 in North America and Australia, and also at this time in Continental Europe. "Don't Bother" was well-received by music critics as the album's lead single, but failed to peak within the U.S. top-50. On February 8, 2006, Shakira won a Grammy Award in the category of "Best Latin Rock Album" for Fijación Oral Vol. 1.

"Hips Don't Lie" (featuring Wyclef Jean), was released in 2006 as the second single from Oral Fixation Vol. 2. On March 28, 2006, she re-released Oral Fixation Vol. 2 with "Hips Don't Lie" and an alternate (Spanglish) version of "La Tortura."

On April 3, 2006, Shakira was honored at a United Nations ceremony because she created the Pies Descalzos Foundation, a charity that helps to protect children from violence in Colombia. At the event she said: "Let's not forget that at the end of this day when we all go home, 960 children will have died in Latin America."

On April 27, 2006 she recieved six Latin Billboard Awards, making her the biggest winnner of the night. These awards included "Female Latin Pop Album of the Year" for Fijacion Oral Vol. 1 and "Hot Latin Song of the Year" for "La Tortura." She was also honored the "Spirit of Hope Award" for her foundation Pies Descalzos.