Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira’s first steps in her creative life were developed at a very early age. By the time she was seven, Shakira displayed an impressive dancing ability when she joined a group of belly dancers and showed how she could emulate their moves. She also began singing and, from the start, displayed a unique voice that stood out among her peers and she could only sing the solos in school because her voice overpowered her class mates.
Her first album, “Magia," recorded when she was only 14 in 1991, failed to find an audience. She returned to the studio to record “Peligro", which came out in 1993 and although the album began to build an audience for her, she felt distant from the songs, feeling the project was more a reflection of her producer’s taste than her own.
In February 1993, although she was barely known outside of Colombia, Shakira was invited to appear at Chile's Viña del Mar International Song Festival. Shakira’s emotional performance of powerful ballad “Eres" (You Are) landed her in third place and began to build her profile outside of Colombia.
The 1995 “Pies Descalzos” album brought her great popularity in Latin America bolstered by the hit singles "Estoy Aquí," "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos" and "Dónde Estás Corazón." The album sold more than 4 million copies and prompted the release of a remix album, which sold another 500,000 copies.
Shakira then turned to renowned producer Emilio Estefan, Gloria Estefan’s husband, to executive produce her fourth album, 1998’s “¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?.” The album drew the attention of not only her loyal and ever-expanding Latin American audience, but Shakira gained fans in non-Spanish-speaking countries like France, Switzerland, Canada and especially the United States. At the inaugural Latin Grammy Awards ceremony that same year, Shakira delivered a much-discussed, show-stopping performance of "Ojos Así" and took home Unplugged-related trophies for Best Female Pop Vocal ("Ojos Así") and Best Female Rock Vocal ("Octavo Dia").
In 2001, Shakira released “Laundry Service”, which contained the mega-smashes “Whenever, Wherever” and ballad “Underneath Your Clothes.” By airing her musical “Laundry” before her adoring public, Shakira went from a Latin American superstar to a global superstar loved by people all over the world, selling more than 13 million albums.
In an innovative move, Shakira then decided to issue a new project, two albums --one in Spanish and one in English—a few months apart. She wrote 60 songs and then divvied them up for the two projects. Her instincts, once again, proved right on target. “Fijación Oral Vol. 1” came out in June 2005 and landed at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in the U.S., making it the highest debut ever for a Spanish language album in the SoundScan era. The English version, “Oral Fixation Vol. 2” came out in November of the same year. Like its predecessor, it set a few records of its own.
In April 2006, Shakira also received six Billboard Latin Music Awards for the album and in June took to the road on her biggest world tour yet. The 140-date outing touched fans in North America, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America and sold out 98% of the shows.
From the Grammys, the Latin Grammys and the MTV Video Music Awards to her role as an ambassador for the UNICEF to her foundations Pies Descalzos and ALAS, Shakira’s contributions have been ambitious and yet, at the same time, she makes them, somehow, appear effortless. Just like you’d expect from someone full of grace.
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