Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll (born February 2, 1977) is a Colombian Latin pop singer-songwriter. She is known for songs such as "Estoy Aquí", "Ciega, Sordomuda", "Ojos Así", "Whenever, Wherever", "Underneath Your Clothes", "La Tortura", "Hips Don't Lie" and her provocative dancing style which primarily features her hips.
Childhood and beginning
Shakira was born in Barranquilla, Colombia to a Colombian mother Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado of Spanish-Italian (Catalan) descent and an American-born father William Mebarak Chadid of Lebanese Catholic descent. She was one of seven siblings, one of which is her road manager. Shakira began writing and composing music at the age of eight. One of her first songs was called "Tus Gafas Oscuras" (Your Dark Glasses), which was about her father's grief over his son who had died in a car accident. At the age of ten, Shakira tried out for her school choir, but she was not taken because her voice was "too strong." She was teased by her friends for sounding similar to a goat.  As a result, Shakira started looking for other singing opportunities, and competed in a weekly television singing competition for children, Vivan Los Niños (Long Live The Kids).
Shakira Ripoll - famous for her bellydance
Between the ages of ten to thirteen, Shakira was invited to various events in Barranquilla, and gained some recognition in the area. It was around this time that she met local theater producer Monica Ariza, who was impressed with Shakira and as a result attempted 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 good regards and returned to the Sony office and gave the cassette to a song and artist director. However, the director was not overly excited and thought Shakira was somewhat 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 subsequently signed to record three albums.
Magia (Magic) was Shakira's debut album, recorded with Sony Colombia in 1991, when she was 15. The album did not fare well commercially as less than one thousand copies were sold. After Magia, Shakira released Peligro (Danger) in 1993. The album was better received than Magia, but Shakira decided to take a hiatus from recording so that she could graduate from high school.
1995-2000: Success in Latin America and Spain
Shakira returned to recording in 1995 with her third studio album, Pies Descalzos (Bare Feet), which brought her great fame in Latin America. The singles "Estoy Aquí" (I'm Here), "Pies Descalzos, Sueños Blancos" (Bare Feet, White Dreams), and "Dónde Estás Corazón?" (Where Are You, My Heart?) became pop culture icons. Pies Descalzos sold more than 4 million copies, which prompted the release of a remix album, titled simply The Remixes, which sold more than a million copies. The Remixes also included Portuguese versions of some of her best-known songs, which were recorded because of her success in the Brazilian market.
Her fourth album, ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones? (Where Are The Thieves?), was released in 1998. It was produced by Emilio Estefan, reportedly cost US$3 million, and had more of a polished sound than Pies Descalzos. It was even more successful and sold almost 7 million. She began to gain more fans in non-Spanish-speaking countries like France, Switzerland, Canada, and especially the United States. Eight of the album's eleven tracks became singles, including "Ciega, Sordomuda"(Blind, Deaf, and Mute), "Moscas En La Casa" (Flies in the House), "No Creo" (I Don't Believe), "Inevitable", "Tú" (You), "Si Te Vas" (If You Leave), "Octavo Día" (Eighth Day), and the world-famous "Ojos Así"(Eyes Like Yours). Shakira's first live album, MTV Unplugged, was composed of "Estoy Aquí" and the songs from ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?.
In March of 2000 Shakira embarked on Tour Anfibio, a three-month tour of Latin America and the United States. In August of 2000 she won an MTV Video Music Award in the now-defunct category of People's Choice - Favorite International Artist.
2001-2004: English market crossover
In 2001, upon the success of ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?, Shakira began working on a crossover album to the English language. Collaborating with Gloria Estefan, Shakira wrote and recorded English versions of the tracks from ¿Dónde Están Los Ladrones?, and new songs were composed to create the album Laundry Service. Although it was created for the intent of selling to an English language market, the rock and Spanish dance-influenced album also featured four Spanish songs, including "Que Me Quedes Tú" (That You Love Me). Some critics claimed that Shakira's English skills were too weak for her to write in it, but Laundry Service was a success, with more than 13 million sales worldwide, yielding the worldwide hit "Whenever, Wherever" and singles "Underneath Your Clothes" (a Canadian number-one), "Te Dejo Madrid" (I Leave You Madrid), "Objection (Tango)", and "The One". The album and its singles helped to establish Shakira's musical presence in the mainstream North American market.
In 2002, Shakira also released her Spanish greatest hits volume Grandes éxitos. A DVD and ten-track compilation album called Live & Off the Record, was also released in 2004 reaching sales of 3 million CDs worldwide, commemorating Shakira's 2002-2003 world tour, the "Tour of the Mongoose."
In September 2002, Shakira won the now-defunct International Viewer's Choice Award at the MTV Video Music Awards with "Suerte". In October of that year, she won 5 MTV Video Music Awards Latin America for Best Female Artist, Best Pop Artist, Best Artist—North (Region), Video of the Year (for Suerte), and Artist of the Year. At Aerosmith's MTV Icon in 2002, Shakira performed "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)". Also in 2002, Shakira joined the likes of Celine Dion, Anastacia, Cher and The Dixie Chicks for VH1 Divas Live Las Vegas.
Fijación Oral Vol. 1 was released on June 6, 2005 in Europe and on June 7, 2005 in North America and Australia. The lead single "La Tortura" (English: The Torture, featuring Alejandro Sanz) eventually reached number one in Spain and number twenty-three on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. In Canada, "La Tortura" also became the highest-charting Spanish song when it debuted and peaked at number twenty-one. Its success across the rest of the world was widespread and it managed to peak within the top ten of the majority of the charts it entered. In the U.S., "La Tortura" spent a record twenty-five weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart.
Fijación Oral Vol. 1 was simultaneously released in Latin America. It debuted at number one in Spain and at number four on the U.S. Billboard 200. It was also well-received in non-Spanish speaking countries such as Italy and Germany, where it reached number one, Austria, where it reached number three, and Canada and Hungary, where it reached number seven. The second single from Fijación Oral Vol. 1, "No" (English: No), was released in September 2005, and peaked at number one in Spain and Colombia, for fourteen non-consecutive weeks. So far, Fijación Oral Vol. 1 has sold five million copies worldwide. Her third single from "Fijación Oral vol. 1" is Día de Enero is dedicated to her boyfriend, Antonio de la Rúa. This single was number one in some countries in Latin America, but it hadn't got success like "La Tortura" and "No". The 4th single could be Las de la Intuición.
Before the release of Shakira's second English album Oral Fixation Vol. 2, she appeared at the 2005 MTV Europe Music Awards ceremony and she was nominated in the category of "Best Female", which she won to great shock since she had outmatched the international popularity of other artists such as Gwen Stefani. Shakira performed Oral Fixation Vol. 2's lead single "Don't Bother" amid dancers and a large car resting on the stage following her win.
Shakira during her "Oral Fixation Tour"
Shakira's second English album Oral Fixation Vol. 2 was released on November 29, 2005 in North America and Australia, and also at this time in Continental Europe. While "Don't Bother" was warmly received by music critics as the album's lead single, it failed to peak within the U.S. top forty. The second single "Hips Don't Lie" (featuring Wyclef Jean) became her first single to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart. On March 28, 2006, she re-released Oral Fixation Vol. 2 in the U.S. and released it June 19, 2006.
On April 3, 2006, Shakira was honored at an United Nations ceremony because she created the Pies Descalzos Foundation, a charity that helps to protect children from violence in Colombia. At the event she said: "Let's not forget that at the end of this day when we all go home, 960 children will have died in Latin America." 
On April 27, 2006 she received 6 Latin Billboard Awards. The awards included Female Latin Pop Album of the Year for Fijacion Oral Vol. 1 and Hot Latin Song of the Year for La Tortura. She was also honored with the Spirit of Hope Award for her foundation Pies Descalzos.
In June Shakira has started her biggest tour ever, called "Oral Fixation Tour", which will last until the summer of 2007.
On July 30th 2006 Hips Don't Lie was the last ever number one, and consequently, the last ever song played on the legendary British programme Top of the Pops, seeing the track jump back from number three to the number one spot again, after spending seven weeks on the chart.
Shakira's hit "Hips don't lie" made history in the first week of June 2006 as the most played song in the history of the radio, according to Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems.
Shakira is the most nominated artist of the year for this year's MTV Video Music Awards '06. Her seven nomiations are for "Hips don't lie", including video of the Year and Best Female Video.
Laundry Service, Shakira's first English album (2001)
In 2000, Shakira started dating Antonio de la Rúa, the son of the then president of Argentina Fernando de la Rúa, a romance that made headline news throughout Latin America. In March of 2001, he proposed to her. During Fernando De la Rúa's presidency, the economy of Argentina collapsed, leading to the subsequent December 2001 riots; in response to the turmoil, Tower Records decided to no longer sell Shakira's albums  in Argentina as Antonio was directly involved in the management of his father's administration. De la Rúa and Shakira remain engaged, with no announced marriage plans.
Shakira is well-known for her dancing in various music videos. The moves are based on the art of belly dancing, a part of her Lebanese heritage, which Shakira says she learned as a young teen to overcome her shyness . The intense training has afforded her a fluidity in her body movement most seen in the video to her hit "La Tortura". In an MTV interview, she said people told her she never moved her chest when dancing, so she danced with her chest (as well as her usual belly dancing moves) in the videos for "La Tortura" and "Hips Don't Lie".
She has had several belly dance choreographers, including award-winning Bellydance Superstar, Bozenka. According to an MTV "Making of..." interview, she made her own choreography for "La Tortura".
In 2002, e-mails were circulated that made allegations about anti-Semitic comments Shakira is said to have made during an appearance on MTV Europe while promoting her latest album, Laundry Service. Supposedly, in a question regarding her popularity in Israel vs. her partial-Lebanese heritage, she called all Israelis and Jews "pigs". However, there has never been any evidence or video footage to substantiate these and MTV has confirmed no such comments were made. The Anti-Defamation League also posted a disclaimer on their website at the time saying that they were convinced the whole thing was an Internet urban legend and that they do not believe she is (at least openly) anti-Semitic.
In 2006, two well-known artists in Latin America claimed that Shakira had breached their works, but both claims were proven wrong and resolved in her favor. The best known was Puerto Rican Salsa Singer Jerry Rivera. Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" used portions of the melody from the song Amores Como El Nuestro, a top Salsa hit in the early 90's. But apparently Jerry Rivera failed to realize that Sony Discos had already given permission and in fact the credits of the published track read "Contains Excerpts from the composition 'Amores Como El Nuestro' performed by Jerry Rivera, courtesy of Sony Discos'.
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