Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll, known professionally as Shakira, was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Her Lebanese father and Colombian mother gave her the name which can be translated from Arabic as «full of elegance and God’s grace». When a child, she used to listen to Colombian and Lebanese music along with English-language songs. Among her favorite musical bands were Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Police and The Cure. The most of her talents were revealed when she was a child – when she was 4 years old she wrote her first poem and when she was 10 she engaged in oriental dancing. At the age of 11 she won her first musical contest. Since then she was winning all the musical contests in Barraquilla.
Her debut album Magia was released when she was 13. Despite the fact that her songs were aired by numerous radio stations of Colombia and brought her fame, only 1,200 copies of the record were sold. The second disc, Peligro (1993), was also a commercial failure. Unsatisfied with the second album, Shakira changed direction and joined the cast of the Colombian soap opera El Oasis playing the part of Luisa Maria. Her third work Pies Descalzos (1995), perfectly combining the rhythm of rock’n’roll and oriental motives, reached #1 in charts of eight countries and went platinum in the US.
In 1997 Shakira has left El Oasis and returned to recording. She signed Emilio Estefan, Jr. – Gloria Estefan’s husband as her manager and producer. The move paid off in no time when her follow-up album Donde Estan los Ladrones? (1998) became an even bigger worldwide hit than its predecessors. The single Ojos Asi was highly popular and the album spent 11 weeks at number 1 on Billboard's Latin album chart in America, sold over more than 4 million copies and became multi-platinum in America and platinum in Spain. In view of the single’s success, Gloria Estefan offered to translate the song into English. It was then when Shakira realized she needed to improve her English to write songs and make good shows.
Soon she performed on MTV Unplugged, the channel’s first Spanish-language broadcast. In early 2000 a studio record of this performance was released, which won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album. Having improved her knowledge of English, Shakira’s popularity increased even more – Laundry Service, released in 2001, sold over 13 million copies world-wide. In 2005 Shakira, already a representative of Pepsi Cola, recorded Fijacion Oral Vol. 1 and its English-language version Oral Fixation Vol. 2, which included such hits as La Tortura and Hips Don’t Lie. In October 2009 her third English-language studio album She Wolf was released, representing Shakira’s shift from Latin pop and Pop-rock to Electropop. In 2010 the singer released her seventh album Sale El Sol, which demonstrated the real kaleidoscope of styles. The long play included a rock song Sale El Sol, a composition with electronic elements Loca, Latin Gordita and many other bright musical creations. There is absolutely no doubt that traditionally strong Sale El Sol will please both Shakira’s old fans and those who are just going to get acquainted with her creativity.
Besides musical and acting career, Shakira is also a creator of Pies Descalzos Foundation to give education and satisfy the needs of homeless children and child victims of violence in Colombia. Shakira also launched a new charity foundation Artistas Latinos En Acción Solidaria (ALAS), which was founded in 2006 and united numerous Spanish-speaking singers such as Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Miguel Bose and others. Apart from everything else, Shakira is also a goodwill ambassador for the UNICEF.