Shakira was born in Barranquilla, Colombia to a Colombian
mother Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado of Catalan descent and an
American-born father William Mebarak Chadid of Christian
Phoenician Lebanese-Macedonian descent. She was one of seven
siblings, one of which is her road manager. Shakira began
writing and composing music at the age of eight. One of her
first songs was called "Tus Gafas Oscuras" (Your Dark Glasses),
which was about her father's grief over his son who had died in
a car accident. At the age of ten, Shakira tried out for her
school choir, but she was not taken because her voice was "too
strong." She was teased by her friends for sounding similar to a
goat. As a result, Shakira started looking for other
singing opportunities, and competed in a weekly television
singing competition for children, Vivan Los Niños (Long Live The
Between the ages of ten to thirteen, Shakira was invited to various events in Barranquilla, and gained some recognition in the area. It was around this time that she met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with Shakira and as a result attempted to help her career. During a flight from Barranquilla to Bogotá, Ariza convinced Sony Colombia executive Ciro Vargas to hold an audition for Shakira in a hotel lobby. Vargas held Shakira in good regards and returned to the Sony office and gave the cassette to a song and artist director. However, the director was not overly excited and thought Shakira was somewhat of "a lost cause". Vargas, not daunted, was still convinced that Shakira had talent, and set up an audition in Bogotá. He arranged for Sony Colombia executives to arrive at the audition, with the idea of surprising them with Shakira's performance. She performed three songs for the executives and impressed them enough for her to be subsequently signed to record three albums.
Magia (Magic) was Shakira's debut album, recorded with Sony Colombia in 1991, when she was 15. The album did not fare well commercially as less than one thousand copies were sold. After Magia, Shakira released Peligro (Danger) in 1993. The album was better received than Magia, but Shakira decided to take a hiatus from recording so that she could graduate from high school.
Shakira returned to recording in 1995 with her third studio album, Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet), which brought her great fame in Latin America. The singles "Estoy Aquí", "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos", and "¿Dónde Estás Corazón?" became pop culture icons. Pies Descalzos sold more than 4 million copies, which prompted the release of a remix album, titled simply The Remixes, which sold more than a million copies. The Remixes also included Portuguese versions of some of her best-known songs, which were recorded because of her success in the Brazilian market.
Her fourth album, ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (Where Are The Thieves?), was released in 1998. It was produced by Emilio Estefan, reportedly cost US$3 million, and had more of a polished sound than Pies Descalzos. It was even more successful and sold almost 7 million. She began to gain more fans in non-Spanish-speaking countries like France, Switzerland, Canada, and especially the United States. Eight of the album's eleven tracks became singles, including "Ciega, Sordomuda", "Moscas En La Casa", "No Creo", "Inevitable", "Tú", "Si Te Vas", "Octavo Día", and the world-famous "Ojos Así". Shakira's first live album, MTV Unplugged, was composed of "Estoy Aquí" and the songs from ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?.
In March of 2000 Shakira embarked on Tour Anfibio, a three-month tour of Latin America and the United States. In August of 2000 she won an MTV Video Music Award in the now-defunct category of People's Choice - Favorite International Artist.
In 2001, 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 composed to create the album Laundry Service. Although it was created for the intent of selling to an English language market, the rock and Spanish dance-influenced album also featured four Spanish songs, including "Que Me Quedes Tú" (That You Love Me). Some critics claimed that Shakira's English skills were too weak for her to write in it, but Laundry Service was a success, with more than 13 million sales worldwide, yielding the worldwide hit "Whenever, Wherever" and singles "Underneath Your Clothes" (a Canadian number-one), "Te Dejo Madrid" (I Leave You Madrid), "Objection (Tango)", and "The One". The album and its singles helped to establish Shakira's musical presence in the mainstream North American market.
In 2002, Shakira also released her Spanish greatest hits volume Grandes éxitos. A DVD and ten-track compilation album called Live & Off the Record, was also released in 2004 reaching sales of 3 million CDs worldwide, commemorating Shakira's 2002-2003 world tour, the "Tour of the Mongoose."
In September 2002, Shakira won the now-defunct International Viewer's Choice Award at the MTV Video Music Awards with "Suerte". In October of that year, she won 5 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 twenty-three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. In Canada, "La Tortura" also became the highest-charting Spanish song when it debuted and peaked at number twenty-one. 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 record twenty-five weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart.
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. 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" (English: No), was released in
September 2005, and peaked at number one in Spain and Colombia,
for fourteen non-consecutive weeks. So far, Fijación Oral Vol. 1
has sold five million copies worldwide.
Before the release of Shakira's second English album Oral Fixation Vol. 2, she appeared at the 2005 MTV Europe Music Awards ceremony and she was nominated in the category of "Best Female", which she won to great shock since she had outmatched the international popularity of other artists such as Gwen Stefani. Shakira performed Oral Fixation Vol. 2's lead single "Don't Bother" amid dancers and a large car resting on the stage following her win.
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. While "Don't Bother" was warmly received by music critics as the album's lead single, it failed to peak within the U.S. top forty. The second single "Hips Don't Lie" (featuring Wyclef Jean) became her first single to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. On March 28, 2006, she re-released Oral Fixation Vol. 2 in the US and released it June 19, 2006.
On April 3, 2006, Shakira was honored at an 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 received 6 Latin Billboard Awards. The 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 with the Spirit of Hope Award for her foundation Pies Descalzos.
In 2000, Shakira started dating Antonio de la Rúa, the son of the then president of Argentina Fernando de la Rúa, a romance that made headline news throughout Latin America. In March of 2001, he proposed to her. During Fernando De la Rúa's presidency, the economy of Argentina collapsed, leading to the subsequent December 2001 riots; in response to the turmoil, Tower Records decided to no longer sell Shakira's albums in Argentina as Antonio was directly involved in the management of his father's administration. De la Rúa and Shakira remain engaged, with no announced marriage plans.
Shakira is well-known for her dancing in various music videos. The moves are based on the art of belly dancing, a part of her Lebanese heritage, which Shakira says she learned as a young teen to overcome her shyness. The intense training has afforded her a fluidity in her body movement most seen in the video to her hit "La Tortura". In an MTV interview, she said people told her she never moved her chest when dancing, so she danced with her chest (as well as her usual belly dancing moves) in the videos for "La Tortura" and "Hips Don't Lie".
In 2002, e-mails were circulated that made allegations about anti-Semitic comments Shakira is said to have made during an appearance on MTV Europe while promoting her latest album, Laundry Service. However, there has never been any evidence or video footage to substantiate these and MTV have confirmed no such comments were made.
In 2006, two well-known artists in Latin America claimed that Shakira had breached their works, but both claims were proven wrong and resolved in her favor. The best known was Puerto Rican Salsa Singer Jerry Rivera. Shakira's song used portions of the melody from the song Amores Como El Nuestro, a top Salsa hit in the early 90's. But apparently Jerry Rivera, failed to realize that Sony Discos had already given permission and in fact the credits of the published track read "Contains Excerpts from the composition 'Amores Como El Nuestro' performed by Jerry Rivera, courtesy of Sony Discos'.
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