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She rocked the Super Bowl halftime show in 2020, her hips don't lie, and she's currently going through a separation and a tax scandal. But what else do we actually know about the Colombian superstar with the Arabic name? Here's Shakira from her early days.
Shakira's complete name is: Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll. 'Shakira' means 'grateful' in Arabic.
Shakira was born in February 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Her father, William Mebarak Chadid, has Lebanese parents and was born in New York City. His family moved to Colombia when he was 5 years old. Shakira's mother, Nidia Ripoll Torrado, is Colombian.
When she was only two years old, Shakira already knew the entire alphabet and talked fluently. At three years, she wrote her first poem. The girl would continue to write poems and convert them into songs.
(Image: Instagram, Shakira)
Shakira started belly dancing when she was four years old. She heard the Arabic drum of the moumbek for the first time when her father took her to a Middle Eastern restaurant. Her grandmother taught her to dance, insisting that Shakira stayed in touch with her Lebanese roots.
Soon enough, Shakira was known at school as 'the belly dancing girl.' Later, in her professional work, the dance became her trademark. "Belly dancing is in my genes," the singer told CBS. "It is a way to express myself. When I hear drums, I automatically start dancing."
When she was 8 years old, Shakira finished her first song. It was very personal, describing the loss of her brother who had died by a motor accident a few years earlier.
The song is called 'Your dark glasses' ('Tus gafas oscuras'), referring to the sunglasses her father often wore to hide his sadness about his son's passing.
Shakira released the song on her first album in 1991. Only 14 years old, she worked as a model and a singer. In school, classmates and music teachers did not take her very seriously. "They said I had the sound of a goat," she recalls in several media.
The album did not do well: it sold only 1000 copies. Meanwhile, Shakira played a role in the Colombian soap opera 'The Oasis,' which was quite bad. Later she would buy all the rights to the show so that no one could ever broadcast it again.
After two failed albums, her label Sony Colombia gave Shakira an ultimatum for her third record. For a while, Shakira considered abandoning the music business altogether and go to college.
In 1995, Shakira finally launched an album with success in South America. It was called 'Bare Feet' ('Pies Descalzos') and contained several hit singles.
Behind the title 'Bare Feet' is a personal story. In 1985, the jewelry store of her father went bankrupt and the family suffered economic hardships. However, to put their situation in perspective, William Mebarak took his daughter to an orphanage and showed her that some people had it much worse. It would lead Shakira to start the 'Pies Descalzos' (Bare Feet) foundation to help homeless and orphaned children.
Since her breakthrough in Latin America, Shakira has been known for her different hairstyles and clothing. She looks like a rocker with Middle Eastern accents, a dreamy blonde ballad singer, a sexy salsa queen, or all of these together.
Alanis Morissette complained about one of her looks, because it seemed like Shakira had copied it from the Canadian singer.
In Shakira's music, different styles come together. "I like to mix styles," she says, "as in a cocktail." The Times of India reports that Shakira used to listen to Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and Nirvana. "I loved that rock, but at the same time, as my father is 100% Lebanese, I also fell in love with Arabic music and sounds."
Shakira speaks seven languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, English, Catalan, and a little Arabic.
In 2001, she released her first English-language album: 'Laundry Service.' Selling more than 27.2 million copies worldwide, this album was her global breakthrough. Its best known songs are 'Whenever Wherever,' 'Underneath Your Clothes' en 'Objection (Tango).'
In 2006, Shakira released her biggest hit, 'Hips Don't Lie' with Fugees band member Wyclef Jean. More than 3.3 million copies of this song were sold.
Meanwhile, the star with a $350 million net worth continued to do charitable work in both her native Colombia and in the Middle East. Here she is meeting U.S. President Barack Obama during the Colombia Summit of 2012.
In addition, Shakira called for Israel to make peace with Lebanon in 2006. The singer visits her fellow Lebanese people quite often.
In 2010, Shakira sang the theme song 'Waka Waka (This Time for Africa' at the Football World Championship in South Africa. She worked together with the band Freshly Ground.
Some say that Shakira had plastic surgery, such as thigh liposuction to make her hips look better in the video of 'Hips Don't Lie.'
Other surgeries she may have resorted to are rhinoplasty (a nose correction), a facelift, and mentoplasty (a chin correction). Shakira has denied nor confirmed these surgeries.
The singer, who also plays guitar, drums, percussion, and harmonica, made an appearance as a judge in the talent show 'The Voice' in 2013 and 2014.
Shakira was forced to take a break from singing in 2017. A haemorrhage in her vocal cords caused the singer to lose her voice. She spent parts of 2017 and 2018 in the background, caring for her children and praying that her voice would return without surgery.
"What I needed was divine intervention," she told The Guardian. And she got it. Shakira got her voice back and continues to grow as a star.
In 2020, Shakira shared the stage with Jennifer Lopez for a Super Bowl Halftime Show that people will not easily forget.
As she began nearing her mid-forties, however, legal and personal problems began taking their toll on Shakira. For one, she was pursued by the Spanish treasury for having evaded taxes in the country, where she's lived for over a decade.
In 2022, the bombshell news came out that Shakira and the Spanish soccer player Gerard Piqué, a star in FC Barcelona and the national team, have separated. They were living together in the Spanish city of Barcelona with their two children but are now heading towards an unknown future.
The reason for the breakup was Piqué's alleged infidelity, making the separation (closely followed by international media) extra painful. Will Shakira recover from this setback in her life?