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Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (born February 2, 1977), known professionally as Shakira, is a Colombian singer-songwriter who emerged in the music scene of Colombia and Latin America in the early 1990s. Born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira began performing in school, demonstrating her vocal ability with rock and roll, Latin and Arabic influences with her own original twist on belly dancing. Shakira is a native Spanish speaker and also speaks fluent English and Portuguese as well as some Italian, French, Catalan and Arabic.

After commercial flops with local producers on her first two albums, and being little-known outside Colombia, Shakira decided to produce her own brand of music. In 1995 she released Pies Descalzos, which brought her great fame in Latin America and Spain, and her 1998 album ¿Dónde Están los Ladrones? was a critical success selling over 10 million copies worldwide. In 2001, aided by the worldwide success of her first English single "Whenever, Wherever" that became the best selling single of 2002, she broke through into the English-speaking world with the release of Laundry Service, which sold over 13 million copies worldwide. Four years later, Shakira released two album projects called Fijación Oral Vol. 1 and Oral Fixation Vol. 2. Both reinforced her success, particularly with the best selling song of the 2000s, "Hips Don't Lie". In 1995, Shakira founded the Pies Descalzos Foundation. It is a Colombian charity with special schools for poor children all around Colombia. During her career, Shakira has performed at a large number of benefit concerts. Among the most famous are the Live 8 benefit concert in July 2005, the Live Earth concert, Hamburg where she headlined the show, as well as the "Clinton Global Initiative" created by former US President Bill Clinton. She was also invited to the Oval Office by President Barack Obama in February 2010 to discuss early childhood development.

Shakira has won two Grammy Awards, eight Latin Grammy Awards, twelve Billboard Latin Music Awards and has been Golden Globe-nominated. She is also the highest-selling Colombian artist of all time, and the second most successful female Latin singer after Gloria Estefan, having sold over 60 million albums worldwide according to Sony Music Entertainment. Her U.S. album sales stand at 9.9 million. In the fall of 2009, Shakira released her sixth studio album She Wolf worldwide gaining a lot of critical praise for her eccentricity and writing skills. The album sold roughly 2 million copies around the world. Shakira's "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", was chosen as the official song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The song has received generally positive critical reception, and has become a worldwide smash hit and the biggest selling World Cup song of all time. On YouTube, the English version of the music video is the 4th most watched video of all time with over 415 million views. When she released her seventh studio album, the bilingual Sale el Sol in October 2010, she gained back her Latin following, which Shakira described as being the main goal for the album. The album has sold over 2 million copies worldwide. Since 2009, Shakira's musical career suffered from a strained relationship with her label Epic Records, which resulted in lack of promotion and investment from Epic Records towards her two latter studio albums; She Wolf (2009) and Sale el Sol (2010). However, Shakira is to enter a bidding war from labels such as Warner and Def Jam Records after the release of her 2011 World Tour DVD, titled Shakira: Live from Paris.

Early life

Shakira was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. She is the only child of Nidia Ripoll and William Mebarak Chadid and is of Lebanese, Macedonian, Spanish (Catalan and Castilian) and Italian descent. She has eight older half-siblings from her father's previous marriage. Shakira's father is originally from the United States, born in New York City, at the age of 5 his family moved to Sincelejo from New York City then relocated to Barranquilla.

Shakira spent much of her youth in Barranquilla, a city located in northern Colombia. Shakira wrote her first poem, entitled "La Rosa De Cristal" ("The Crystal Rose") when she was only four years old. As she was growing up, she was fascinated watching her father writing stories on a typewriter, and asked for one as a Christmas gift. She got her wish at age seven and continued writing poetry. These poems eventually evolved into songs. At the age of two, an older half-brother was killed in a motorcycle accident and at the age of eight, Shakira wrote her first song entitled "Tus gafas oscuras" ("Your dark glasses") which was inspired by her father, who for years wore dark glasses, to hide his grief. When Shakira was four, her father took her to a local Middle Eastern restaurant, where Shakira first heard the doumbek, a traditional drum used in Arabic music and which typically accompanied belly dancing. Before she knew it, Shakira was dancing on the table, she then knew she wanted to be a performer. She enjoyed singing for schoolmates and teachers (and even the nuns) at her Catholic school, but in the second grade was rejected for the school choir because her vibrato was too strong. The music teacher told her that she sounded "like a goat". At school, she says she had been known as "the belly dancer girl", as she would demonstrate every Friday at school a number she had learned. "That's how I discovered my passion for live performance," she says.

When she was eight, Shakira's father declared bankruptcy. While the details were sorted out, she stayed with relatives in Los Angeles. On returning to Barranquilla, she was shocked to find that much of what her parents owned had been sold; as she later said "In my childish head, this was the end of the world." To show her that things could be worse, her father took her to a local park to see orphans who lived there. The images stayed with her and she said to herself "one day I’m going to help these kids when I become a famous artist." Between the ages of ten and thirteen Shakira was invited to various events in Barranquilla and gained some recognition in the area. It was at about this time that she met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with her and as a result tried 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 high regard and, returning to the Sony office, gave the cassette to a song and artist director. However, the director was not overly excited and thought Shakira was something 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 signed to record three albums.

Career beginnings
Shakira's debut album, Magia, was recorded with Sony Music Columbia in 1990 when she was only thirteen years old. The songs are a collection made by her since she was 8, mixed pop-rock ballads and disco uptempo songs with electronic accompaniment, however it was hampered by a lack of recording and production cohesion. The album was released in June 1991 and featured "Magia" and three other singles. Though it fared well on Colombian radio and gave the young Shakira much exposure, the album did not fare well commercially as only 1,200 copies were sold worldwide. After the poor performance of Magia, Shakira's label urged her to return to the studio to release a follow-up record. Although little known outside of her native Colombia, Shakira was invited to perform at Chile's Viña del Mar International Song Festival in February 1993. The festival gave aspiring Latin American singers a chance to perform their songs, and the winner was then chosen by a panel of judges. Shakira performed the ballad "Eres" ("You Are") and won the trophy for third place. One of the judges who voted for her to win was then 20-year-old Ricky Martin.

Shakira's second studio album Peligro was released in March, but Shakira was not pleased with the final result, mainly taking issue with the production. The album was better received than Magia, though it was also considered a commercial failure due to Shakira's refusal to advertise it. Shakira then decided to take a hiatus from recording so that she could graduate from high school. In the same year, Shakira starred in the Colombian TV Series "The Oasis", loosely based on the Armero tragedy in 1985. Since then, the albums have been pulled from release and are not considered official Shakira albums but rather promotional albums.

Present career: She Wolf and Sale el Sol
During an online chat with her fans in El Heraldo in February 2008, Shakira revealed that work on her sixth studio album was about to begin. Furthermore, at Shakira's cousin Isa Mebarak's album release party in Colombia, Shakira's father William Mebarak stated that Shakira was currently at work writing and producing new songs for her upcoming album. This was being done in "her own studio", which many fans thought to mean the studio at her home in the Bahamas. Shakira recorded 2005's Fijación Oral Vol. 1 and 2006's Oral Fixation Vol. 2 there as well.

After spending two weeks in London, Shakira flew to Colombia for a peace-promoting concert in Leticia (at the three way border of Colombia, Peru and Brazil) with Carlos Vives. Followed by hundreds of thousands of fellow Colombians, Shakira was calling for the release of hostages being held by rebels in Colombia and an end to similar kidnappings in the region. Afterward, it was reported by Noticias Caracol in Colombia that Shakira returned to her home studio in the Bahamas and continued recording "a little something" with members of Vives' band. It was later confirmed that Shakira was working with the likes of RedOne, Wyclef Jean and Luis F. Ochoa on her sixth studio album. RedOne later stated that Shakira was in "an experimental phase" and that she had been working on the album in Los Angeles, Miami, Vancouver, London, Uruguay and the Bahamas.

In early 2008, Forbes named Shakira the fourth top-earning female artist in music industry. Then, in July 2008, Shakira signed a 10-year contract with Live Nation, an international touring giant. The touring group also doubles as a record label which promotes but does control the music their artists release. Regarding Shakira's contract, Jason Garner, the global music chief of Live Nation stated that: "Shakira is one of the few truly global artists. She can sell music and tickets in nearly every corner of the globe." Neither Shakira's representatives nor Live Nation would confirm the value of the deal, but people close to the negotiations said that depending on Shakira's performance over the 10 years, it is likely to be worth between $70 million and $100 million. Shakira's contract with Epic Records calls for three more albums as well – one in English, one in Spanish, and a compilation, but the touring and other rights of the Live Nation deal were confirmed to begin immediately.

"She Wolf", the lead single from Shakira's sixth studio album, premiered on July 13, 2009. Shakira wrote and produced the song with John Hill, and Sam Endicott (lead singer and songwriter of The Bravery). The Spanish version, titled "Loba", premiered on the same day as well. "She Wolf" and "Loba" then became available for digital download the following day. The video for "She Wolf" premiered on MTV on July 30, 2009. The single was successful worldwide, reaching number one in Latin America, number two in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Estonia and Spain, number three in Switzerland and Austria, number four in the UK, France and Greece, number five in Canada and Belgium, number six in Finland, number nine in Japan, and number eleven in the US.

Also in July 2009, Shakira's official website announced that "The full album is She Wolf due out in October 2009 from Epic" and it "features a predominantly English track list". The site also announced that a Spanish album will be released in 2010. She Wolf was released in October 2009 internationally and on November 23, 2009 in the U.S. The album received mainly positive reviews from critics, but only managed to sell 89,000 copies in its first week in the U.S., earning the number fifteen spot on the Billboard 200. It has gone on to sell only 300,000 records in the U.S., becoming her least successful album there. However, the album has been moderately successful worldwide, having been certified Gold in Russia, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland, France, Argentina, Greece, and Hungary, Platinum in Spain, the United Kingdom, and the Middle East, 2x Platinum in Colombia and Mexico, and 3x Platinum in Taiwan. To date the album has sold 1.5 million copies worldwide, becoming Shakira's least successful studio album to date in terms of sales.

The album's second single, "Did It Again", was released in October 2009 and was originally due for a U.S. release, though this was later canceled. The single reached the top 40 in most countries worldwide. "Give It Up To Me", featuring Lil Wayne was released as the album's second U.S. single in November 2009 and reached the top 40 in Canada and on the Hot 100. The album's U.S. release was delayed in order for Shakira to record the song, which was originally due to be featured on its producer Timbaland's album, Timbaland Presents Shock Value II and would have featured Shakira. However, she chose to record it for her album with Timbaland's rap verse being scrapped in favor of a verse from Flo Rida. Plans for the single changed again when Lil Wayne requested to be featured on the song, with this later happening. The album's third and final single, "Gypsy", was released in February 2010 and reached the top 40 in Europe but failed to reach the top 40 in the U.S. or in South America, becoming a mildly successful single. In May 2010, it was confirmed through Shakira's official website that she will embark on a global tour. The site announced that the tour will begin in North America in September 2010. The post also announced the first three confirmed dates and stated that additional dates will be announced soon, adding that "The tour will bring Shakira's spectacular show to top arenas and a host of additional cities throughout the summer and fall". It was initially announced that Shakira would release a Spanish album in 2010 after the release of She Wolf, similar to what she did with Oral Fixation, but Shakira later stated that the album would instead be a bilingual project, which will contain Spanish and English songs. She also stated that it was due for a September 2010 release. Shakira collaborated with the South African group Freshlyground to create the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", which is based on a traditional Cameroonian soldiers' Fang song named "Zangalewa" by the group Zangalewa or Golden Sounds. The song was made popular in her native Colombia in 1987 through west African DJs in Colombia. The single later reached the top 20 in Europe, South America and Africa and the top 40 in the U.S. and was performed by Shakira at the World Cup kick-off and closing. Sale el Sol has been released as Shakira's seventh studio album on October 19, 2010. In June 2010, during an interview with Billboard magazine, Shakira announced that her new album would be released in September. She stated in the magazine that "I see it as having two currents," she stated. "One is a lot about love and love experiences and emotions. And the other side of it is very joyful, and upbeat." Shakira also revealed that the music on the album would reflect influences from both the Dominican Republic and Colombia. "It’s a little more Latin on one side and a little more rock ‘n roll on the other side," she stated. She later compared her new material to the Oral Fixation era's music, stating that she was "going back to basics" for the record. The lead single "Loca", her version of the song "Loca con su tiguere" from El Cata, was number one in many countries. She shot the video for "Loca" in Barcelona in August,. Shakira unveiled the official album cover on September 1. The album debuted at 7 on Billboard 200 in its first week, and at the top spot on the Billboard Top Latin Albums. On December 6, 2010 Sony Music announced that the album had sold over 1 million copies worldwide in 6 weeks, and over 2 million since its release.

Shakira embarked on The Sun Comes Out World Tour, from September 2010 to October 2011, in support of her two most recent albums. The tour visited countries in North America, Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa with 107 shows in total. The tour was met with positive reactions from critics, who praised Shakira's stage presence and energy during her performances. The tour has been broadcasted numerous times around the world, with her June 13 and June 14, 2011 concerts at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy being recorded for the live album Shakira: Live from Paris, set to be released worldwide on December 6, 2011. On November 9, 2011, Shakira was honored as Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year and performed a salsa song "En Barranquilla Me Quedo" at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
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