Shakira Biography

Shakira is famous all over the world for her hip-shaking, belly-dancing moves, and has become one of the biggest Latin crossover artists of all time.

Shakira was born Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll on Feb. 2, 1977, in Barranquilla, Colombia, to mother Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado and father William Mebarak Chadid. Shakira's mother is of Colombian descent, while her father is Lebanese-Macedonian. Shakira is one of seven siblings, and one of them is currently her road manager.

Shakira began to write and compose her own music at age 8. At 10, she tried out for the school choir but was rejected because her voice was "too strong."

In the next couple of years, Shakira began to look for chances to sing live, and she competed in a weekly TV series for kids called "Vivan Los Ninos."

She began to gain some local recognition, and soon met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with her and began to help her career.

At 13, Shakira moved to Bogota to pursue a modeling career, but things soon went in another direction. Monica Ariza convinced Sony Colombia executive Ciro Vargas to hold an audition for Shakira in a hotel lobby, and Vargas liked her performance. He took her tape to a song and artist director, but the director was not impressed.

Vargas, however, still believed in her, and set up an audition in front of other Sony executives. They were impressed by her performance, and she was soon signed to a three-album record deal.

In her teen years, Shakira studied belly-dancing, a Lebanese tradition, in order to overcome her shyness. Her unique form of dancing continues to be one of her trademarks today.

Shakira's debut album, "Magia," was released in 1991 when she was 15. It sold fewer than 1,000 copies. In 1993 she released "Peligro," which sold more, but Shakira decided to take a break from recording so she could graduate from high school.

In 1995, Shakira released her third album, "Pies Descalzos," which made her famous throughout Latin America.

In 1998, her fourth album, "Donde Estan Los Ladrones?" was released, and sold almost 7 million copies. She soon started to gain a fan base in non-Spanish speaking countries such as France and Canada.

In 2000, Shakira went on a three-month tour of Latin America and the United States. That year she won an MTV Video Music Award in the category of People's Choice-Favorite International Artist.

That same year, she began dating Antonio de la Rua, the son of then-Argentinian President Fernando de la Rua. The romance was tabloid-fodder all over Latin America, as Antonio was a famous bachelor and ladies man. In 2001, he proposed to Shakira.

Also in 2001, Shakira began to work on an English language album, collaborating with Gloria Estefan. There were some English versions of her previously released songs, as well as several Spanish songs on the album. The album sold more than 13 million copies worldwide, and the singles "Whenever, Wherever" and "Underneath Your Clothes" were hits. It established Shakira as a popular artist in the North American market.

In 2002, Shakira released a Spanish greatest hits album entitled "Grandes Exitos." That same year, she won the MTV Video Award for international viewer's choice and five MTV Video Music Awards Latin America.

In June 2005, Shakira released "Fijacion Oral Vol. 1," which debuted at No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Charts. It was also received well internationally. At the 2005 MTV Europe Video Music Awards, Shakira won the award for best female, beating out others such as Gwen Stefani. In November 2005, "Oral Fixation, Vol. 2" was released, but failed to peak in the U.S. top 40.

The single "Hips Don't Lie," however, hit No. 1, and she rereleased the album in June 2006.

In February 2006, Shakira won a Grammy for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album.

In April 2006, Shakira was honored by the United Nations for starting the charity Pies Descalzos Foundation, which helps to protect children from violence in Colombia. She also received six Latin Billboard Awards that month, and was awarded with the Spirit of Hope award because of her Foundation.

In August 2006, Shakira was nominated for seven MTV Awards, and she dedicated the nominations to the Latino community in the United States. Of the seven, she won one award for Choreography.

In November 2006, Shakira won four Latin Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year. During the ceremony, she took time to talk about the issue of illegal immigration in the United States. She said that she supports those who are trying to become citizens as they work without documentation.

"I hope soon they will receive they recognition they deserve from the government," she said.


1995: "Magia"
1993: "Peligro"
1996: "Pies Descalzos"
1997: "The Remixes"
1998: "Donde Estan los Ladrones?"
2000: "MTV Unplugged"
2001: "Laundry Service"
2002: "Grandes Exitos"
2004: "Live & Off the Record"
2005: "Fijacion Oral Vol. 1"
2005: "Oral Fixation Vol. 2"