There are only so many women in this world who are known by one name only, and Shakira is one of them. She’s a Colombian superstar and her music is instantly recognizable, even though it blends varied genres from folk to rock to pop to electronic with Latin and Middle Eastern influences.
Born in 1977, Shakira began writing and performing at an early age and she released her first album in 1991, when she was just thirteen. However she didn’t find widespread success until 1996, with her album Pies Descalzos, which she helped write and produce. The album was certified platinum, and Shakira followed it up with a Latin American tour.
Shakira began building a non-Spanish-speaking fan base with the release of ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? in September 1998. The album, which would ultimately sell 10 million copies, spawned eight singles (out of 11 tracks) and won Shakira her first Latin Grammys. Because of increased exposure outside of Latin America (plus the crossover success of other Latin artists), Shakira released her first English album in 2001, Laundry Service. It became the best-selling album of 2002, with 13 million copies sold worldwide.
Following another concert tour, Shakira took a break until 2005, when she released two new albums: Fijación Oral Volumen 1 and Oral Fixation Volume 2. Both were critical and commercial successes, and you probably remember two of her biggest hits:”La Tortura” and “Hips Don’t Lie”. In fact “Hips Don’t Lie”- a collaboration with Haitian rapper Wyclef Jean- was the biggest hit of the biggest hit of the decade, breaking many records. She even performed the song at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final. Shakira also embarked on an international tour- and I got to see her in concert!
Her most recent album, She-Wolf, came out last year. This year, she recorded the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”. It’s become her latest mega-hit, and she’ll be kicking off another world tour this fall.
Let’s not forget though that Shakira is more than a beautiful and talented singer-songwriter and dancer. She’s fluent in three languages and it has been reported she has an I.Q. of 140. So the girl has a brain too. But that probably wouldn’t mean as much if Shakira didn’t devote herself to charitable causes. Back in 1997 she founded her Pies Desclazos Foundation, which helps poor and impoverished children in her native Colombia, a country that has struggled with civil war and drug trafficking for generations. The organization’s main focus is to aid children through education and nutrition. Shakira is also a co-founder of the ALAS Foundation, a non-profit which aims to help kids throughout Latin America. She has worked with many other humanitarian organizations outside of Latin America, traveling and speaking on their behalf. Shakira has been honored by the United Nations and is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Shakira? Which of her songs are your favorite? Let me know in the comments!
P.S. Check out Shakira’s YouTube channel here.