|Shakira Superstar !
Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, on February 2, 1977, Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll is the youngest sibling of her parents' eight children. Her father William Mebarak, who is American of Lebanese descent, and Colombian mother, Nidia Ripoll, both supported their daughter's ambition of becoming a singer.
Shakira knew early on that she wanted to be a professional musician and by the time she was 8, she was already writing her own songs. This undeniable prodigy even began playing the guitar by 11 years of age.
While in school, Shakira was making her musical talent known by winning talent shows playing the guitar, and she was even kicked out of her school choir because her voice drowned out the other choir singers. Elsewhere, Shakira impressed judges at local and national competitions, who declared her winner of these contests.
At the age of 13, Shakira had become Sony Colombia's newest artist, and her first album, entitled Magia (Magic) was released. The album was a compilation of songs that she had written between the ages of 8 and 13.
The album was well received and Colombian listeners were beginning to realize who this feisty musician was. The 16-year-old Shakira was chosen to represent her native Colombia at the Festival OTI in Spain, but since she was under the minimum age, she could not participate.
Shakira's second album, Peligro (Danger) was released, and was met with considerable success. Not neglecting her education, she returned to school to receive her high school diploma.
Shakira knew early on in her career that she wanted to sing in the rock genre, despite Sony's original attempts to make her a pop singer, adhering to the commercial standards of the time. Following her heart, Shakira's third album, Pies Descalzos went on to become a huge hit, and featured her own rock, pop and Latin inspired tunes.
Released in 1995, Pies Descalzos's success is largely due to the Latin American radio airplay it received. It spawned number one singles such as "Estoy Aqui" and "Donde Estas Corazon" and many more consecutive hit singles. The album soared up to number one in eight countries and sold over four million copies.
Following the worldwide success of her album, Shakira went on a 2-year international tour, selling out in every venue. Her popularity pushed her to release Portuguese remixes of her songs for her fans in Brazil.
Shakira entered the realm of acting with a role on the Colombian soap opera El Oasis from 1994 to 1997, but her true passion remained music.
In 1998, Shakira released her fourth album, Donde Estan Los Ladrones?, which has received much critical acclaim and was considered Shakira's breakthrough album -- at least in the Latin genre. The album went multi-platinum in U.S., Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Central America, Mexico, and went platinum in Spain.
Produced by über-producer Emilio Estefan -- who also became her manager -- the album is the perfect blend of gritty, thought-provoking lyrics and rock-laden tracks, while still preserving the Shakira that her original fans knew and loved.
Often referred to as the Latin equivalent of Alanis Morissette thanks to her long dark hair (at the time) and rock-infused style, Shakira, whose name means "woman full of grace" in Arabic, succeeds to captivate her audience without the bitterness that Morissette is usually associated with.
latin with an edge
Shakira was chosen as the cover girl for Time Magazine's issue featuring the article "Era of the Rockera," and has also graced the cover of Cosmopolitan. In addition, Shakira was named an official goodwill ambassador by the Colombian government and Latin Female Artist of the Year at the World Music Awards.
While she released an MTV Unplugged album in 2000 -- which MTV didn't air at first, but later aired on MTV Latin America -- she had yet to breakthrough in mainstream English pop.
But a performance on the CBS-aired Latin Grammys in September 2000 (and several awards), and a catchy song "Whenever, Wherever," made American audiences sit up and take notice. Shakira's English recording debut, Laundry Service was released in 2001, and with the help of "Whenever, Wherever," its accompanying video (which features Shakira walking very seductively amid a desert and wildlife) and the follow-up single, "Underneath Your Clothes," has been certified double platinum. The now platinum-haired beauty is curving her way to superstardom.
What else do you need to know?