Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (born 2 February 1977) is a Colombian singer and songwriter known as the “Queen of Latin Music”. She made her recording debut with Sony Music Colombia at the age of 13 and rose to prominence in Hispanic countries with her next albums, Pies Descalzos (1995) and Dónde Están los Ladrones? (1998). She entered the English-language market with her fifth album, Laundry Service (2001), which sold over 13 million copies worldwide. Her success was further solidified with the Spanish albums Fijación Oral, Vol.1 (2005), Sale el Sol (2010), and El Dorado (2017), all of which topped the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart and were certified diamond (Latin) by the Recording Industry Association of America. Her English albums Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 (2005), She Wolf (2009) and Shakira (2014) were all certified gold, platinum, or multi-platinum in various countries worldwide. Shakira has sold over 85 million records, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. Her songs have charted at number one in multiple countries, including “La Tortura”, “Hips Don’t Lie”, “Beautiful Liar”, “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)”, “Loca”, “Chantaje”, and “Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53”.
She served as a coach on two seasons of the American singing competition television series The Voice. She has received numerous awards, including three Grammy Awards, twelve Latin Grammy Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, thirty-nine Billboard Latin Music Awards, six Guinness World Records and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was named the Top Female Latin Artist of the Decade by Billboard twice and received the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year and Harvard Foundation Artist of the Year awards in 2011. She was appointed to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics in the US in 2011 and Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 2012.
She is the only child of William Mebarak Chadid and Nidia Ripoll Torrado, a Colombian of Lebanese descent. She was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools. She has eight older half-siblings from her father’s previous marriage. Shakira wrote her first poem, titled “La rosa de cristal” when she was only four years old, and has continued writing poetry since then. When she was two years old, an older half-brother was killed in a motorcycle accident, and she wrote her first song, titled “Tus gafas oscuras” (‘Your dark glasses’).
When Shakira was four, her father took her to a Middle Eastern restaurant where she first heard the doumbek, a traditional drum used in Middle-Eastern music. This experience made her realize that she wanted to be a performer. She was rejected for the school choir due to her vibrato, and was often sent out of the class due to her hyperactivity. At age ten, she was invited to various events in Barranquilla and gained some recognition. At age thirteen, she met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with her and tried to help her career.
Ariza convinced Sony Colombia executive Ciro Vargas to hold an audition for Shakira in a hotel lobby. Vargas was not overly excited and thought Shakira was something of “a lost cause”. However, he set up an audition in Bogotá and arranged for Sony Colombia executives to arrive at the audition. Shakira performed three songs for the executives and impressed them enough for her to be signed to record three albums.